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Mathieu Le Corre

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ACQUIRING LANGUAGE How do you know what words are?  Phonology: what changes in sound counts as a new word o The Problem: o Phoneme: smallest piece of a word o To create different phonemes, vary how interrupt airflow and shape mouth  Syntax: How words combine to express relations between meaning Voice Onset Time:  Sound is caused by air vibrations  Vocal chords and mouth are separate!  VOT= timing of vocal chords relative to opening of mouth o Negative= vocal chords make air vibrate BEFORE mouth (ba) o Positive= vocal chords go after the mouth opens (pa) Categorical Perception  150ms before mouth all different sounds (we categorize as one sound “ba)  After 20ms (“pa”) How do we get the boundary between /pa/ and /ba/? Hypothesis 1: learned from environment  Maybe babies have to produce all the sounds on the /ba/ to /pa/ continuum  Get feedback from environment that says: - all the sounds with VOT <20 go together - all the sounds with VOT >20 go together  Result: create the /ba/ category, and the /pa/ category Hypothesis 2: innate  Auditory system is innately built to split continuous differences in relative timing of vocal chords and mouth into distinct phonological categories How can we test those theories?  Testing one-month olds: - don’t produce speech sounds  if categorical perception is shown, then it cannot be learned from environment - cannot learn these sounds by paying attention to how the people around them respond to the sounds they make so this would make good evidence that it is innate  Problem: babies don’t do much at all, even have a hard time keeping eyes focused  How do you test them? Need to play sounds to the baby and have them show a response TEST: High Amplitude Sucking Procedure  Each time the baby sucks on pacifier, a sound is played – so baby can control sound  Pacifier is hooked up to a machine that tracks the rate of sucking  When sucking rate declines to set point (habituation criterion), the computer switches the auditory system  Different sounds that correspond to different adult categories are distinguished – did not distinguish between 2 different /pa/  Did distinguish between /pa/ and /ba/ at 1-month Distinguishing phonemes in for
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