Speech segmentation is modulated by peak alignment: Evidence from German 10-month-olds

Bettina Braun, Muna Pohl, Katharina Zahner


In two headturn preference experiments, we tested whether German infants’ segmentation strategies are sensitive to the position of a pitch peak relative to the stressed syllable. Specifically, we compared target words with early-peak accents (where the pitch peak is early with respect to the stressed syllable, i.e. H+L* accents) and medial-peak accent (where the pitch peak is aligned with the stressed syllable, i.e. H* accents). Such differences in accent type signal mostly pragmatic distinctions, such as the difference between new and recoverable information. We familiarized infants with target words with one of the two intonation conditions that were embedded in sentences. We measured looking times to lists of trochaic part-words that were embedded in target words or were novel to them. Results showed an effect of familiarity only in the medial-peak condition, suggesting that infants at 10 months of age are very sensitive to pitch information for segmenting running speech.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2014-178

Cite as: Braun, B., Pohl, M., Zahner, K. (2014) Speech segmentation is modulated by peak alignment: Evidence from German 10-month-olds. Proc. 7th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2014, 949-953, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2014-178.


@inproceedings{Braun2014,
  author={Bettina Braun and Muna Pohl and Katharina Zahner},
  title={{Speech segmentation is modulated by peak alignment: Evidence from German 10-month-olds}},
  year=2014,
  booktitle={Proc. 7th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2014},
  pages={949--953},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2014-178},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2014-178}
}