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This study explores the possibility that early word segmentation is aided by infants' tendency to segment words with repeated syllables ('reduplication'). Twenty-four nine-month-olds were familiarized with passages containing one novel reduplicated word and one novel nonreduplicated word. Their central fixation times in response to these as well as new reduplicated and nonreduplicated words introduced at test showed that familiarized reduplicated words were segmented better than familiarized nonreduplicated words. These results demonstrate that infants are predisposed to segment words with repeated phonological elements, and suggest that register-specific words in infant-directed speech may have evolved in response to this learning bias.
- word segmentation
- learning bias
- syllable repetition
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- School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences - Personal Chair of Language Development
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