Do English-learning infants use syllable weight to determine stress?

A. E. Turk, P. W. Jusczyk, L. Gerken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A linguistic factor governing the assignment of English lexical stress is syllable weight. Heavy syllables which have either a long (tense) vowel or are closed with a consonant are heavy and automatically bear stress. Are infants sensitive to this aspect of the English stress system? Previous research by Jusczyk, Cutler, and Redanz (1993) showed that nine-month-olds listened longer to words exhibiting Strong-Weak than Weak-Strong stress pattern. However, they did not investigate the role of syllable weight in this preference. A series of three experiments explored infants' preference for Strong-Weak versus Weak-Strong lists, but systematically manipulated the syllable weight of Strong syllables. The results suggest that syllable weight is not a necessary component of the Strong-Weak preference observed in previous studies. Rather it appears that infants prefer both words that begin with a Strong syllable and Strong syllables that are heavy. Thus, the results suggest that sensitivity to surface linguistic patterns and the principles that underlie them may be independent in early language acquisition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalLanguage and Speech
Volume38
StatePublished - Apr 1995
Externally publishedYes

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infant
Learning
Weights and Measures
Linguistics
learning
linguistics
language acquisition
Language
experiment
Syllable Weight
Research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Language and Linguistics

Cite this

Do English-learning infants use syllable weight to determine stress? / Turk, A. E.; Jusczyk, P. W.; Gerken, L.

In: Language and Speech, Vol. 38, 04.1995.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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