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Input to Language: The Phonetics and Perception of Infant-Directed Speech


  • Alejandrina Cristia

    1. Neurobiology of Language, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
    2. Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique, CNRS, IEC-ENS, EHESS
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Over the first year of life, infant perception changes radically as the child learns the phonology of the ambient language from the speech she is exposed to. Since infant-directed speech attracts the child's attention more than other registers, it is necessary to describe that input in order to understand language development, and to address questions of learnability. In this review, evidence from corpora analyses, experimental studies, and observational paradigms is brought together to outline the first comprehensive empirical picture of infant-directed speech and its effects on language acquisition. The ensuing landscape suggests that infant-directed speech provides an emotionally and linguistically rich input to language acquisition.