4th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Philadelphia, PA, USA
October 3-6, 1996

Word Recognition by Japanese Infants

P. A. Halle (1), Toshisada Deguchi (2), Yuji Tamekawa (1), B. Boysson-Bardies (1), Shigeru Kiritani (3)

(1) CNRS-Paris V, Paris (France)
(2) Tokyo Gakugei University, Koganei (Japan
(3) University of Tokyo, Tokyo (Japan)

Building a lexicon is a necessary step in the process of language acquisition. The emergence and development of vocabulary have usually been observed in naturalistic settings through their external manifestations: the first attempts at producing words, and the various signs showing that an infant comprehends words. Naturalistic approaches, however, may underestimate the productive lexicon on one hand, and overestimate the receptive lexicon on the other hand. An experimental approach, using the Headturn Preference Procedure, has been used to show that 11-to-12-month-old French infants can recognize familiar words without specific training (Hallé and Boysson-Bardies, 1994). The spontaneous preference for familiar words, interpreted as word recognition, revealed the formation of an early receptive lexicon comprising a significant part of the familiar words that were used. At 12 months, recognition seemed to be firmly established, while it seemed to be just emerging at 11 months. Using the same procedure, the present study examined familiar word recognition in Japanese infants: Twelve-month-olds, but not 10-month-olds, showed a preference for familiar words, similar in intensity to that shown by 11-month-old French infants. These results are again interpreted as revealing the formation of a nascent receptive lexicon in Japanese infants by 12 months of age. Commonalties and differences between the two language groups are discussed.

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Bibliographic reference.  Halle, P. A. / Deguchi, Toshisada / Tamekawa, Yuji / Boysson-Bardies, B. / Kiritani, Shigeru (1996): "Word recognition by Japanese infants", In ICSLP-1996, 1557-1560.