Identification of Prelinguistic Phonological Categories PurposeThe prelinguistic infant’s babbling repertoire of syllables—the phonological categories that form the basis for early word learning—is noticed by caregivers who interact with infants around them. Prior research on babbling has not explored the caregiver’s role in recognition of early vocal categories as foundations for word learning. In the present ... Article
Article  |   December 01, 2012
Identification of Prelinguistic Phonological Categories
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • D. Kimbrough Oller
    University of Memphis, TN
  • Eugene H. Buder
    University of Memphis, TN
  • Corinna A. Ethington
    University of Memphis, TN
  • Lesya Chorna
    University of Memphis, TN
  • Correspondence to Heather L. Ramsdell: ramsdellh@isu.edu Heather L. Ramsdell is now with Idaho State University, Pocatello. Lesya Chorna is now with the Milwaukee School of Engineering, Pewaukee, WI.
  • Editor: Janna Oetting
    Editor: Janna Oetting×
  • Associate Editor: Susan Rvachew
    Associate Editor: Susan Rvachew×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language
Article   |   December 01, 2012
Identification of Prelinguistic Phonological Categories
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2012, Vol. 55, 1626-1639. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/11-0250)
History: Received September 10, 2011 , Accepted March 18, 2012
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2012, Vol. 55, 1626-1639. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/11-0250)
History: Received September 10, 2011; Accepted March 18, 2012
Web of Science® Times Cited: 6

PurposeThe prelinguistic infant’s babbling repertoire of syllables—the phonological categories that form the basis for early word learning—is noticed by caregivers who interact with infants around them. Prior research on babbling has not explored the caregiver’s role in recognition of early vocal categories as foundations for word learning. In the present work, the authors begin to address this gap.

MethodThe authors explored vocalizations produced by 8 infants at 3 ages (8, 10, and 12 months) in studies illustrating identification of phonological categories through caregiver report, laboratory procedures simulating the caregiver’s natural mode of listening, and the more traditional laboratory approach (phonetic transcription).

ResultsCaregivers reported small repertoires of syllables for their infants. Repertoires of similar size and phonetic content were discerned in the laboratory by judges who simulated the caregiver’s natural mode of listening. However, phonetic transcription with repeated listening to infant recordings yielded repertoire sizes that vastly exceeded those reported by caregivers and naturalistic listeners.

ConclusionsThe results suggest that caregiver report and naturalistic listening by laboratory staff can provide a new way to explore key characteristics of early infant vocal categories, a way that may provide insight into later speech and language development.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by the Plough Foundation and by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grants R01 DC006099 and R01 DC011027, both awarded to the second author.
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