General programme, activity sheet

Friday 8 September, 2017 12:00 to 13:30

Plenary Lecture

From speech input to linguistic knowledge

Speaker: Barbara  Höhle , Universität Potsdam

Children master to acquire the essential grammatical and phonological properties of their ambient language(s) with an amazing speed during their first years of life. What are the mechanisms that make this fast development possible? The „Prosodic Bootstrapping” account predicts that prosodic information contained in the speech input that young infants are exposed to supports their early syntactic and lexical development (1,2). I will present findings from our lab that show that young infants are sensitive to specific prosodic features from early on, but that these features are not universal and that, hence, their exploitation needs some attunement to language-specific characteristics (2,3,5). Furthermore, I will argue that disturbances of this early prosodic development may hinder further lexical and syntactic development leading to lower language performance in children up to school age (6,7).

References: (1) Höhle, B. (2009) Bootstrapping mechanisms in first language acquisition. Linguistics, 47, 359-382.
(2) Höhle, B. (2015) Crosslinguistic perspectives on segmentation and categorization in early language
acquisition. In E. Bavin & L. Naigles (eds.) The Cambridge Handbook of Child Language. Second Edition. Cambridge: University Press. pp. 159-182.
(3) Wellmann, C., Holzgrefe, J., Truckenbrodt, H., Wartenburger, I. & Höhle, B. (2012) How each prosodic boundary cue matters: Evidence from German infants. Frontiers in Language Sciences.
(4) Höhle, B., Bijeljac-Babic, R., Herold, B., Weissenborn, J. & Nazzi, T. (2009) Language specific prosodic preferences during the first year of life: Evidence from German and French infants. Infant Behavior and Development, 32, 262-274.
(5) Bijeljac-Babic R., Höhle, B. & Nazzi, T. (2016) Early prosodic acquisition in bilingual infants: the case of the perceptual trochaic bias. Frontiers in Psychology.
(6) Höhle, B., Pauen, S., Hesse, V., & Weissenborn, J. (2014) Discrimination of rhythmic pattern at 4 months and language performance at 5 years: A longitudinal analysis of data from German-learning children. Language Learning, 64, 141-164.
(7) Herold, B., Höhle, B., Walch, E., Weber, T. & Obladen, M. (2008) Impaired word stress pattern discrimination in very low-birth weight infants during the first 6 months of life. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 50, 678-683.

Plenary Session