Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Psychology

Supervisor

Dr. Lisa Archibald

Abstract

Infants rely on cues from their environment during language acquisition. Prosodic features of words are one such cue and involve changes in stress and rhythmic patterns within speech. Studies have examined prosody’s influence on word segmentation and have found it to be a useful cue for detecting word boundaries (Johnson & Seidl, 2009). What is less understood is how prosody helps infants form associations between novel labels and their referents during word learning. The present thesis investigated the influence of prosodic cues on word learning. The looking times were recorded of 13 infants (19-25 months) exposed to object-label pairings that either did or did not contain a prosodic manipulation. Results revealed shorter vs. longer looking times to prosodic cues congruent or incongruent, respectively, with previous pairings. Looking times to novel or consistent pairings involving no prosodic cues did not differ. These findings suggest that prosody may help facilitate word learning.


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