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infants’ ability to differentiate between dialects in their native language

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Infants’ Ability to Differentiate Dialects in Their Native Language
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Introduction.
This research focuses on the ability of infants to differentiate phonetic discrepancies between the Southern and Northern dialects in the English language. The following research questions are within the scope of the study: Do children make a distinction between dialects in their native language? Are younger infants able to differentiate between phonemic contrasts?
Literature Overview.
A literature overview on Speech perception research studies has proven that infants are sensitive to the fine-grained differences in expression. In the last six months of their first year of childhood, there is a forecast that they respond less sensitively to phonetic differences although these characteristics fall in their relevance to their native languages. A substantial amount of evidence arrays that infants have the abilities to discriminate contrasts that differentiate words in their own or another language of native but little has been found knowledgeable that they do distinguish phonetic sounds. From the study, evidence showed that infants of the ages of seven months discriminated dialectical differences of linguistically equivalent words with vowel sounds. However, infants of the ages between 11 and 18 months failed to do this. The findings of this study showed that those in the usage of non-native contrasts their infants became less sensitive to some vowel variants of dialect basis mostly after eleven months of age (Lipsitt, 1983).

Wait! infants’ ability to differentiate between dialects in their native language paper is just an example!

Another study that tested infants’ abilities of non-consonant contrasts using some Zulu clicks syllables. Some of these syllables fell into a single category of contrasts groups. These non-assimilable contrasts are the non-native sounds that are not within the native phonetic space and are therefore heard out as non-speech sounds. On the other hand, single category contrasts are non-native sounds that are assimilated in the same group of the native language, heard the same sound. The results obtained in this study were consistent with numerous predictions that the infants of ages six to eight months can discriminate both non-assimilable and single category non-consonant contrasts. However, the ten to twelve-month-old infants were only capable of discriminating the non-assimilable contrasts (Wynne,2010).
Some studies indicated that infants held the capability of speech perception that skillfully underwent rapid developments in the first year. At first, they were all sensitive to all virtual phonetic differences although, through the ages of six months, infants began to focus on other linguistically relevant differences. Consequently, they lost their abilities to distinguish most of the non-native phonetic contrasts that were not linguistically relevant.
A particular study on cases of deaf children, infants of about six months onwards, began to babble with their hands similar to what the hearing infants did audibly. This actions of the study indicated that regardless of the modalities, early experiences do shape an individual’s language behavior. The children who acquired speech but lost their hearing abilities before puberty also suffered from a substantial decline in their spoken language (Dupoux, 2001).
Discussion of Experiment.
The expected result of this experiment is that children will show better results in revealing vowel differences between two dialects. Such expectation is motivated by findings of the research by Phan and Houston (2006) who discovered that children from 11 months and more cannot discriminate local differences of linguistically equivalent sounds. One possible explanation is the change in language processing strategy. Younger infants are inclined to focus on prosodic cues regardless of word meanings. However, infants with 15 months of age become more focused on semantic information rather than the effect of prosody (Siegler, 2004). The implication is that 5- and 7-months old infants can discriminate the differences between their home dialect and another; however, the discrimination ability is not dialect generic (Butler, Floccia, Goslin, Panneton, 2010).
Experiment Design.
Participants of this experiment include 5-month old up to 11-month old infants. The infants are all from monolingual British-speaking homes in the North of England and have not been exposed to the influence of Southern England English dialect. The current study focuses on testing infants’ ability to reveal vowel differences between Northern England English (native dialect) and Southern England English (different dialect). In the research, the High-Amplitude Sucking procedure is applied. The process presupposes that auditory stimuli with words “strut” and “bath” are played to infants as long as they suck a non-nutritive dummy, which is connected to a computer to measure the sucking frequency. After a certain period, the infant gets used to the sound and sucks the dummy less frequently. When the rate decreases to a certain level, auditory stimulus from another category is played. If computer records an increase in the sucking rate, it indicates that the infant notices the difference between the provided sounds. If after switching to another sound the sucking rate remains the same, the infant does not detect the change of from one sound category to another.
General Discussion and Conclusion.
On a fine level of analysis, research studies do indicate that the phonetic structure of language upon an individual in their early life shapes the perception and production of speech. This fact means that many dialects use appreciably distinct repertoires of speech tools called phonemes during the production of spoken words. Young human infants are indeed able to differentiate among the distinctions of human speech sounds but are not innately biased toward phonemes characteristic to a particular language (Galliford, 2003).References.
Butler, J., Floccia, C., Goslin, J., and Panneton, R. (2010). Infants; discrimination of familiar and unfamiliar accents in speech. Infancy, 1-10. DOI: 10.1111/j.1532-7078.2010.00050.x
Dupoux, E. (2001). Language, brain, and cognitive development essays in honor of Jacques Mehler. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Galliford, J. (2003). The effects of music experience during early childhood on the development of linguistic and non-linguistic skills.
Lipsitt, L. (1983). Advances in infancy research. Norwood: Ablex Pub.
Phan, J. and Houston, M.D. (2008). Infant dialect discrimination. Progress Report No.29. Indiana University Retrieved from http://www.iu.edu/~srlweb/pr/PR29_p316_Infant_Dialect_Discrimination.pdf
Siegler, R. S. (2004). U-shaped interest in U-shaped development-and what it means. Journal of Cognition and Development, 5, 1-10.
Wynne, S. (2010). GACE 003 early childhood special education general curriculum : Teacher certification exam. Boston: XAMonline.

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