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Lecture 1

EDHD 411 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Mutual Exclusivity, Speech Perception, Thematic Relation

Education, Human Development
Course Code
EDHD 411
Lucas Butler

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Monday, March 6, 2017
Foundations of Language & Word Learning
-Why is language important?
-Language is unique to humans
Noam Chomsky
“Human language appears to be a unique phenomenon, without significant analogue in the
animal world”
-Early vocalizations
Human vocalizations are flexible in purpose, unlike other primates
-What counts as “language”?
“Every newborn communicates from birth to 3 months using 5 distinct sounds” (Dunstan
Baby Language website)
Is a shared system of arbitrary symbols that refer to things, even in the absence of those
Is intentionally communicative
-“What’s that Lassie? I think she’s trying to tell us something.”
Follows rules of structure (grammar)
-How do children begin learning language?
1. Recognizing speech
-As soon as they are born, infants prefer to listen to
Their mom
Their native language
Things they heard a lot in the womb
Infant-directed speech (IDS)
-The speaking style adults use when talking to children
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Monday, March 6, 2017
-Pitch is highly variable
-Shorter utterances
-More pauses
-Why might parents use IDS?
Gets infants’ attention
Conveys emotion
-**For both of these reasons, probably, infants prefer to listen to this over adult-
directed speech
-Adult-directed speech (ADS) vs. IDS in German mothers of newborns
Fernald & Simon, 1984
-Other examples of ADS vs. IDS
Fernald (1985)
-Comparison of ADS and IDS in the German mothers
-Cross-language comparison of mothers’ and fathers’ ADS and IDS
Higher pitch in IDS
Generally, more variability in IDS
-Infants prefer to listen to IDS over ADS
Fernald, 1985
-IDS might highlight words in the speech stream
2. Categorizing sounds
-Categorical perception
Do infants perceive speech sounds categorically?
-Habituation paradigm with 1- and 4-month-olds
-Sucking rate measure
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