ASA 125th Meeting Ottawa 1993 May

4aSP13. Sonority contrasts dominate young infants' vowel perception.

Francisco Lacerda

Inst. of Linguist., Stockholm Univ., S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

Three groups of normal Swedish infants were tested on their ability to discriminate equal (in Bark) sonority (high/low) and chromacity (front/back) vowel contrasts. The infants were 2--3, 6--7, and 10--11 months old, living in monolingual Swedish environments. The 2--3 month olds were tested using the high-amplitude sucking technique. The older infants were tested with the head-turn procedure. One of the vowel pairs provided a [(open aye)]/[ ] sonority contrast, that was conveyed only by a 1.8-Bark difference in F1. The other pair was a [(open aye)]/[a] chromacity contrast, in which the vowels differed also by 1.8 Bark but in this case along F2. In spite of the procedural differences, the results show that the three groups of subjects could detect the sonority contrast but that no reliable discrimination could be inferred for the corresponding chromaticity contrast. [Work supported by The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation, Grant No. 90-0150.]