Melanie S Schreiner and Nivedita Mani (2017)

Listen up! Developmental differences in the impact of IDS on speech segmentation

Cognition, 160:98-102.

While American English infants typically segment words from fluent speech by 7.5-months, studies of infants from other language backgrounds have difficulty replicating this finding. One possible explanation for this cross-linguistic difference is that the input infants from different language backgrounds receive is not as infant-directed as American English infant-directed speech (Floccia et al., 2016). Against this background, the current study investigates whether German 7.5- and 9-month-old infants segment words from fluent speech when the input is prosodically similar to American English IDS. While 9-month-olds showed successful segmentation of words from exaggerated IDS, 7.5-month-olds did not. These findings highlight (a) the beneficial impact of exaggerated IDS on infant speech segmentation, (b) cross-linguistic differences in word segmentation that are based not just on the kind of input available to children and suggest (c) developmental differences in the role of IDS as an attentional spotlight in speech segmentation.