Diminutives facilitate word segmentation in natural speech: cross-linguistic evidence

Vera Kempe, Patricia J. Brooks, Steven Gillis, Graham Samson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Final-syllable invariance is characteristic of diminutives (e.g., doggie), which are a pervasive feature of the child-directed speech registers of many languages. Invariance in word endings has been shown to facilitate word segmentation (Kempe, Brooks, & Gillis, 2005) in an incidental-learning paradigm in which synthesized Dutch pseudonouns were used. To broaden the cross-linguistic evidence for this invariance effect and to increase its ecological validity, adult English speakers (n = 276) were exposed to naturally spoken Dutch or Russian pseudonouns presented in sentence contexts. A forced choice test was given to assess target recognition, with foils comprising unfamiliar syllable combinations in Experiments 1 and 2 and syllable combinations straddling word boundaries in Experiment 3. A control group (n = 210) received the recognition test with no prior exposure to targets. Recognition performance improved with increasing final-syllable rhyme invariance, with larger increases for the experimental group. This confirms that word ending invariance is a valid segmentation cue in artificial, as well as naturalistic, speech and that diminutives may aid segmentation in a number of languages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)762-773
Number of pages12
JournalMemory & Cognition
Volume35
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2007

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segmentation
speech
measurement method
linguistics
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language
test
validity
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adult
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child
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Cite this

Kempe, Vera; Brooks, Patricia J.; Gillis, Steven; Samson, Graham / Diminutives facilitate word segmentation in natural speech : cross-linguistic evidence.

In: Memory & Cognition, Vol. 35, No. 4, 06.2007, p. 762-773.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Diminutives facilitate word segmentation in natural speech : cross-linguistic evidence. / Kempe, Vera; Brooks, Patricia J.; Gillis, Steven; Samson, Graham.

In: Memory & Cognition, Vol. 35, No. 4, 06.2007, p. 762-773.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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