Document Detail

Simultaneous bilingualism and the perception of a language-specific vowel contrast in the first year of life.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  14748445     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Behavioral studies have shown that while young infants can discriminate many different phonetic contrasts, a shift from a language-general to a language-specific pattern of discrimination is found during the second semester of life, beginning earlier for vowels than for consonants. This age-related decline in sensitivity to perceive non-native contrasts has been generally attested in monolinguals. In order to analyze the impact of bilingual exposure on the perception of native-sound contrasts and the early building of language-specific contrastive categories, four-month-old and eight-month-old infants from Spanish monolingual, Catalan monolingual and Spanish-Catalan bilingual environments have been tested with a familiarization-preference procedure on a vowel contrast present only in Catalan: /e/-/epsilon/. As expected, younger infants were all able to perceive this contrast, independently of the language of exposure. However, by eight months, only infants from Catalan monolingual environments succeeded. Although the decline in sensitivity with the monolingual Spanish group was expected, the results with the bilingual group challenge the view that mere exposure is enough to maintain the capacity to perceive a contrast. An additional experiment at 12 months of age indicated that bilinguals finally regained discrimination. Together these results suggest a specific developmental pattern of perceptual reorganization in bilingual exposure.
Laura Bosch; Núria Sebastián-Gallés
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Language and speech     Volume:  46     ISSN:  0023-8309     ISO Abbreviation:  Lang Speech     Publication Date:  2003  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2004-01-29     Completed Date:  2004-04-21     Revised Date:  2006-11-15    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  2985214R     Medline TA:  Lang Speech     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  217-43     Citation Subset:  IM    
University of Barcelona, Spain.
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MeSH Terms
Language Development*
Psychological Tests
Speech Perception / physiology*

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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