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Segmentation of highly vocalic speech via statistical learning: Initial results from Danish, Norwegian, and English.

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  • Fabio Trecca
  • Stewart M. McCauley, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom
  • Sofie Riis Andersen, Aarhus University, Denmark
  • Dorthe Bleses
  • Hans Basbøll, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
  • Anders Højen
  • Thomas O. Madsen, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
  • Ingeborg Sophie Bjønnes Ribu, University of Oslo, Norway
  • Morten H. Christiansen
Research has shown that contoids (phonetically defined consonants) may provide more robust and reliable cues to syllable and word boundaries than vocoids (phonetically defined vowels). Recent studies of Danish, a language characterized by frequent long sequences of vocoids in speech, have suggested that the reduced occurrence of contoids may make speech in it intrinsically harder to segment than in closely related languages such as Norwegian. We addressed this hypothesis empirically in an artificial language learning experiment with native speakers of Danish, Norwegian, and English. We tested whether artificial speech consisting of concatenated contoid–vocoid syllables is easier to segment than speech consisting of vocoid–vocoid syllables where the first segment is a semivowel and the second a full vowel. Contrary to what was expected, we found no effect of the phonetic makeup of the syllables on speech segmentability. Possible interpretations and implications of this result are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLanguage Learning
Pages (from-to)143-176
Number of pages34
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

    Research areas

  • Danish, crosslinguistic, language distance, statistical learning, vowels, word segmentation, LANGUAGE, BIAS, WORDS, ACQUISITION, CONSONANTS, VOWELS, CONSTRAINTS, SOUND STRUCTURE, STRESS, PHONOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT

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