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English-learning one- to two-year-olds do not show a consonant bias in word learning*

  • CAROLINE FLOCCIA (a1), THIERRY NAZZI (a2), CLAIRE DELLE LUCHE (a1), SILVANA POLTROCK (a2) and JEREMY GOSLIN (a1)...

Abstract

Following the proposal that consonants are more involved than vowels in coding the lexicon (Nespor, Peña & Mehler, 2003), an early lexical consonant bias was found from age 1;2 in French but an equal sensitivity to consonants and vowels from 1;0 to 2;0 in English. As different tasks were used in French and English, we sought to clarify this ambiguity by using an interactive word-learning study similar to that used in French, with British-English-learning toddlers aged 1;4 and 1;11. Children were taught two CVC labels differing on either a consonant or vowel and tested on their pairing of a third object named with one of the previously taught labels, or part of them. In concert with previous research on British-English toddlers, our results provided no evidence of a general consonant bias. The language-specific mechanisms explaining the differential status for consonants and vowels in lexical development are discussed.

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Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Caroline Floccia, Plymouth University – School of Psychology, Drake Circus, Plymouth PL4 8AA, United Kingdom. e-mail: caroline.floccia@plymouth.ac.uk

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[*]

This research was conducted thanks to a bilateral ESRC/ANR grant RES-062-33-0001. Many thanks to Melanie Havy and Ian Dennis for their help during the writing of this paper.

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References

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