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Monodialectal and multidialectal infants’ representation of familiar words*



Monolingual infants are typically studied as a homogenous group and compared to bilingual infants. This study looks further into two subgroups of monolingual infants, monodialectal and multidialectal, to identify the effects of dialect-related variation on the phonological representation of words. Using an Intermodal Preferential Looking task, the detection of mispronunciations in familiar words was compared in infants aged 1;8 exposed to consistent (monodialectal) or variable (multidialectal) pronunciations of words in their daily input. Only monodialectal infants detected the mispronunciations whereas multidialectal infants looked longer at the target following naming whether the label was correctly produced or not. This suggests that variable phonological input in the form of dialect variation impacts the degree of specificity of lexical representations in early infancy.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Samantha Durrant, School of Psychology, Plymouth University, Drake Circus, PL4 8AA, Plymouth, UK. tel: +44 1752584859; e-mail:


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This work was supported by grants from the Nuffield Foundation (2008–2011) and the ESRC (2009–2011) awarded to the last author. Special thanks are also due to all the toddlers and their parents who participated in this study.



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Monodialectal and multidialectal infants’ representation of familiar words*



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