Third International Conference on Spoken Language Processing (ICSLP 94)

Yokohama, Japan
September 18-22, 1994

Discrimination of English /r-l/ and /w-y/ by Japanese Infants at 6-12 Months: Language-Specific Developmental Changes in Speech Perception Abilities

Teruaki Tsushima (1), Osamu Takizawa (2), Midori Sasaki (2), Satoshi Shiraki (2), Kanae Nishi (2), Morio Kohno (3), Paula Menyuk (1), Catherine Best (4)

(1) Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
(2) Kansai Advanced Research Center, Communications Research Laboratory, Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications
(3) Kobe City University of Foreign Studies
(4) Wesleyan University, and Haskins Laboratories

In this study, we investigated language-specific developmental changes in Japanese infants' perceptual discrimination of English approximants, /r-l/ and /w-y/ at 6-12 months. It was found that both /r-l/ and /w-y/ were discriminated at 6-8 months. At 10-12 months, however, /w-y/ was discriminated, whereas /r-l/ was not. The present findings support the following conclusions; 1) a developmental decline in discrimination of non-native approximants occurs toward the end of the first year, consistent with earlier reports on non-native stop consonant contrasts; 2) phonemic factors are crucial in accounting for the observed decline, given that discrimination of a native approximant contrast remains good throughout the first year.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Tsushima, Teruaki / Takizawa, Osamu / Sasaki, Midori / Shiraki, Satoshi / Nishi, Kanae / Kohno, Morio / Menyuk, Paula / Best, Catherine (1994): "Discrimination of English /r-l/ and /w-y/ by Japanese infants at 6-12 months: language-specific developmental changes in speech perception abilities", In ICSLP-1994, 1695-1698.