Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception Institut Neurosciences Cognition Université Paris Descartes Centre National de Recherche Scientifique
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Early word segmentation in infants acquiring Parisian French: task-dependent and dialect-specific aspects

Six experiments explored Parisian French-learning infants’ ability to segment bisyllabic words from fluent speech. The first goal was to assess whether bisyllabic word segmentation emerges later in infants acquiring European French compared to other languages. The second goal was to determine whether infants learning different dialects of the same language have partly different segmentation abilities, and whether segmenting a non-native dialect has a cost. Infants were tested on standard European or Canadian French stimuli, in the word-passage or passage-word order. Our study first establishes an early onset of segmentation abilities: Parisian infants segment bisyllabic words at 8 months in the passage-word order only (revealing a robust order of presentation effect). Second, it shows that there are differences in segmentation abilities across Parisian and Canadian French infants, and that there is a cost for cross-dialect segmentation for Parisian infants. We discuss the implications of these findings for understanding word segmentation processes.



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