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A crosslinguistic investigation of vowel formants in babbling*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 February 2009

Bénédicte de Boysson-Bardies*
C.N.R.S. & E.H.E.S.S.Université Paris V
Pierre Halle
C.N.R.S. & E.H.E.S.S.Université Paris V
Laurent Sagart
C.N.R.S. & E.H.E.S.S.Université Paris V
Catherine Durand
C.N.R.S. & E.H.E.S.S.Université Paris V
Laboratoire de Psychologie Expérimentale, 54 Bld Raspail, 75006 Paris, France.


A cross-cultural investigation of the influence of target-language in babbling was carried out. 1047 vowels produced by twenty 10-month-old infants from Parisian French, London English, Hong Kong Cantonese and Algiers Arabic language backgrounds were recorded in the cities of origin and spectrally analysed. F1-F2 plots of these vowels were obtained for each subject and each language group. Statistical analyses provide evidence of differences between infants across language backgrounds. These differences parallel those found in adult speech in the corresponding languages. Implications of an early build-up of target-language-oriented production skills are discussed.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1989

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Part of this data was presented at the Fourth International Congress for the Study of Child Language and at the Eleventh International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. This research was supported by A.T.P. no. 955138 C.N.R.S. We would like to thank Saleha Chabani and D. Ben Sultana from Algiers, and J. Philips from the MRC Cognitive Development Unit, London, for their help. We are also grateful to the infants' parents who allowed us to conduct our recordings.



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