ASA 128th Meeting - Austin, Texas - 1994 Nov 28 .. Dec 02

4aSPb3. A preliminary investigation of how prosodic cues may help young infants' to extract words from natural sentences.

Francisco Lacerda

Ulla Sundberg

Christin Andersson

Inst. of Linguist., Stockholm University, S-10691 Stockholm, Sweden

This paper presents preliminary results of a study assessing 6-month-old infants' capacity to pick up linguistically relevant information presented in complex naturalistic linguistic contexts. The head-turn procedure was used to investigate the infants' ability to discriminate target words that are embedded in natural carrier sentences. The sentences were produced as infant-directed or adult-directed speech (``direction'') and for each direction of the target word occurred either in emphatic or nonemphatic position (``focus''). A large numb;er of sentences, including all the possible combinations of direction and focus, was first submitted to adult scrutiny in order to select unambiguous carrier sentences in which adequate target words were subsequently edited. Both adults and infants were tested by the head-turn procedure, to assess the differences between the infants' and adults' use of the prosodic information. [Research supported by The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation, Grant No. 94-0435.]