Factors Contributing to an Infant’s First Words ay lethally What factors do contribute to the production of an infant’s first words? Discuss Sound is at the beginning of language learning. In order to acquire words and sentences children have to learn to distinguish different sounds. There are two big stages in learning first words: the word comprehension and the word production. The word comprehension stage is also divided in 3 stages: identifying a word from the speech stream, remember what the word sounds like so you can recognize it when you hear it again and link the word with some consistent event.

The word production has two stages: repeat the sound of the word and say the word in an appropriate context. At the beginning of language development most young children comprehend more words than they can produce. This essay will discuss the key factors that contribute to the infant’s first words, but the mall focus will be on the speech recognition: Identifying a word from the speech stream and remember what that word sounds like. And here it will be examined some evidence to see what the researchers mean by recognizing speech: Deceased and Spence, Christopher and

Morton, Johnson and Cuscus and Miller and DuPont. Looking at these researchers some Important points are going to be analyses: Identifying speech sounds, prenatal speech learning, recognizing voices, telling languages apart, cues to word boundaries, syllable stress and transitional probabilities. Because the babies can’t talk, the researchers have to find some methods to explain their behaviors. Just because unborn babies or infants show that they respond to something, or that they can dilettantes between two things, does not mean that they necessarily perceive them in the same way as adults or children do.

First two skills in speech recognition are to recognize and remember the speech sound followed by the ability to segment the words from the speech stream. The infants need to identify where words begin and end from the flow of sounds, people make when they speak. Richard et al. (1992) emphases that babies begin to learn about the language around them even before they are born. They can hear their mother’s voice quite clearly while still inside the womb and they will respond. A series of experiments have shown that unborn babies can actually remember and recognize some aspects of the speech they hear.

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Deceased and Spence (1986) carried out a prenatal speech learning experiment where a group of pregnant women were asked to read loud a particular passage from The Cat in the Hat story, six weeks before birth, repeated twice a day. At 2 – 3 days old, babies were tested with a special pressure – sensing dummy that was wired up to record how fast and how hard they were sucking. The babies were divided In two groups. While they were sucking their dummies for one group of babies was played a recording of The cat in the Hat and for the other group it was played recording of a different story.

Deceased and Spence found that the group of babies who listen to the recording of the story that they have heart before birth Increases their rate of sucking, but the other group did not. Furthermore they found that the 1 OFF other person. Deceased and Spence concluded from this experiment that babies recognized The Cat and the Hat story that they have heart before birth and they also recognized the story not only their mother’s voice. As it was said before, Just because the babies responded in this manner finding such an effect doesn’t tell us what features of the stories the infants were responding to.

Deceased and Spence (1986) in another study tested the response of babies before they were born. A group of French women pregnant in the 35th week recited a rhyme three times a day for four weeks. Half of the mothers recited one rhyme and the other half a different rhyme. At the end of the four weeks a speaker was placed 20 CM above each mother’s abdomen and the babies’ hearts were fetal heart monitored. The mothers were asked to listen to some music through headphones, in order not to affect the babies’ response. Deceased et al. Mound that there was a clear difference in the heart rates of the babies when they heart the familiar rhymes, even when the rhyme was recited by someone else than their mother. Although Deceased et al. Found that changes in infants’ heart rates were good indicators of different responses by infants to familiar and unfamiliar rhymes this doesn’t tell how far and in what ways the infants were aware of the differences between the rhymes. And there was another factor that could affect the babies’ responses: the mothers listened to music through headphone. Surely the beat from the music would have been felt by the baby.

So this would be possibly caused a distraction to the baby as they would have had the music ND the rhyme at the same time. Babies prefer the human voice over the other sounds. According to a study by Deceased and Fifer (1980) using the pressure – sensing dummy technique babies will increase their rate of sucking in order to hear recorded human voice than recorded music or rhythmical non – speech sound. Miller and DuPont (1994) found this initial preference becomes more specific at four weeks; preference is for mother’s voice over the other female voices.

Babies rapidly develop a preference for familiar languages. Miller et al. (1994) tested 4 day old French babies giving them to hear both French and Russian. As it can be predicted from Deceased and Spence, French was preferred. In a study Christopher and Morton (1998) presented 2 month old English babies two different languages comparison. The first was between English and Japanese, these two languages having a different rhythmical pattern and the second comparison was between English and Dutch, these languages being similar to each other in prosody. The sucking method was used for the test.

It was found that English 2 month olds babies discriminate English from Japanese and some of them consider Dutch to be native. The different attest in sucking does not necessarily tell us that the babies really discriminate between languages, it could be that the babies’ response was to something else: not feeling well, love sucking, etc. Researchers have found that infants use prosodic cues to segment speech and these are used to find out the beginning and ends of words, recognize voice and distinguish different language. The speech stream is a continuous flow of sound when people speak.

One possible prosodic cue is syllable stress. A very regular pattern of stress in words could be found in languages such as Italian or Greek, hilts English is a language with variable stress. The transitional probability is prosody. Certain pairs of syllables are more likely to occur together than other pairs. Johnson and Skuzzy (1998) carried out two experiments to investigate the use of transitional probabilities and the syllable stress in the detection of the word boundaries by eight month old infants. In the first study Johnson and Skuzzy invented four words from twelve syllables: baking, outbid, Goleta and droop.

The study had two phases: familiarization phase and the test phase. In the first phase the words were repeated in random order for three minutes. Therefore sequences of syllables that form words occur more often. In the test phase were presented all the words the infants had heard plus part words; e. G. Tudor is the last syllable of Goleta and the first of droop. Looking at the effect of the transitional probabilities it was found that infants spent longer time listening to the part words than the words, as would be expected through infant’s preference for novelty.

In the second study Johnson and Skuzzy investigated the syllable stress in the detection of the word boundaries. The study was similar to the other one, using a familiarization phase allowed by the test phase. Every time a part word appeared during the familiarization it was stressed on the first syllable. It was found that infants listened to words longer than part words, exactly opposite what s was found in the first study. This means that the infants perceived part words as more familiar than words.

And this implies that during familiarization faze the infants paid more attention to the stress cues than transitional probabilities. From these two studies Johnson and Skuzzy concluded that prosodic cues such as stress are more important than transitional probabilities in detecting word boundaries. The third stage in comprehending a word is linking the word with some consistent event. In order to understand words infants have to identify the words, than link them to objects or events. An example of this is Burner’s theory with the diary study of Francesca (Dates et al. 2004, p. 4) who learnt to associate the phrase “Are you ready? ” at four months old with the routine of nappy changing that had been constant from three months old. Associations can only happen if a child has some way of deciding what the adult is talking about. There are two significant cues: direction of gaze combine with head turning and pointing. They help establish what someone is referring to when they are talking. Pointing is the more accurate cue for both adults and children. Comprehension of words begins at around seven months old of age and the initial rate of word learning is slow.

This is typical followed by an increase or spurt in the rating of learning (Baldwin 1995). In the first year of life infants develop significant abilities to produce sounds that they can hear. The early sound made is called babbling. Leer (1980) described babbling going through a series of stages: cooing at three months, vocal play at four months, canonical babbling at six months, duplicated babbling at eight months and variegated babbling at ten months. Children show variation in the age at which they first begin to produce words.

Some of them can produce their first word as early as 9 months, but others do not produce their first word until their second year. Some reasons of a language delay could be: not having the opportunity to hear words being used consistently, not producing canonical babbling by ten months, mothers using less specific names, referring to objects using general names such as this or that, The word production’s last stage is honesty simplifications of adult forms and it is not until the age five or six that they can accurately produce all the phonemes and combination of phonemes that are used in a particular language.

The MacArthur study (1994) shows that the most children produce their first words at around ten months and gradually produce more words over the next few months. As with comprehension, there is a sudden increase in the rate of learning new words. This occurs at around thirteen months and at this point girls are, on average, significantly ahead of boys in the number of the words hey are able to produce. In conclusion there is a complex process in the production of an infant’s first words that has different stages: word comprehension and word production.


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