DFG-SPP 1234

Isabell Frohn-Wartenburger, Barbara Höhle & Hubert Truckenbrodt – Universität Potsdam / ZAS Berlin

Development of prosodic competence in early first language acquisition: Behavioral and neurophysiological investigations

Project summary

The project aims at the very early prosodic development in first language acquisition with a focus of phonological and acoustic correlates of prosodic boundaries. Based on previous findings that the specific constellation of these cues and their weighting by the hearer is subject to crosslinguistic variation we will investigate when the German learning child shows a sensitivity to the prosodic boundary markings typical for German. To get a better understanding how prosodic boundaries are marked in German we will first do a prosodic analysis of utterances with different positions of prosodic boundaries produced by German speakers and test German adults on their processing of the relevant cues. These results will guide the construction of the experimental material for perceptual experiments planned with German infants between 4-months and 8-months of age in a longitudinal design. In these experiments infants reactions to speech material with natural prosodic boundaries and to speech material in which single acoustic cues had been manipulated will be tested. For these perceptual experiments behavioural methods as well as neurophysiological measures (EEG) will be used. Our studies will provide new insights into the interaction of basic perceptual mechanism the child is equipped with and their attunement to the specific features of the target language and will improve our understanding of the development of the neural mechanisms underlying prosodic competencies.

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