Cross-language speech perception: Initial capabilities and developmental change.

  title={Cross-language speech perception: Initial capabilities and developmental change.},
  author={Janet F. Werker and Christopher E Lalonde},
  journal={Developmental Psychology},
This article reports three studies designed to increase our understanding of developmental changes in cross-language speech perception. In the first study, we compared adult speakers of English and Hindi on their ability to discriminate pairings from a synthetic voiced, unaspirated place-of-articulation continuum. Results indicated that English listeners discriminate two categories (ba vs. (Ja), whereas Hindi listeners discriminate three (ba vs. da, and da vs. Da). We then used stimuli from… 

Cognitive Influences on Cross-Language Speech Perception in Infancy

Sensorimotor influences on speech perception in pre-babbling infants: Replication and extension of Bruderer et al. (2015)

Findings reveal specificity in the relation between sensorimotor and perceptual processes in pre-babbling infants, and show generalizability to a second phonetic contrast.

Neurophysiologic and Behavioral Measures of Phonetic Perception in Adult Second Language Speakers of Spanish


Developmental changes in vowel perception: how input interplays with initial perceptual biases

The present dissertation aims at analyzing the interplay between initial acoustic biases and language exposure during acquisition of language in the first year of life. This is a critical period in

Infant Perception of Non-Native Consonant Contrasts that Adults Assimilate in Different Ways

This work evaluated the predictions of several theoretical accounts of developmental change in infants' perception of non-native consonant contrasts and supported the Articulatory-Organ-matching hypothesis (AO), specifically that older infants should show a decline for non- native distinctions involving a single articulatory organ.

Perceptual beginnings to language acquisition

  • J. Werker
  • Psychology, Linguistics
    Applied Psycholinguistics
  • 2018
In this article, I present a selective review of research on speech perception development and its relation to reference, word learning, and other aspects of language acquisition, focusing on the

Individual Differences in Infant Speech Segmentation: Achieving the Lexical Shift

We report a large-scale electrophysiological study of infant speech segmentation, in which over 100 English-acquiring 9-month-olds were exposed to unfamiliar bisyllabic words embedded in sentences

The Ontogeny and Developmental Significance of Language-Specific Phonetic Perception

This chapter compares recent findings on non-native vowel perception to previous research on non-native consonant discrimination. Previous research examining discrimination on non-native consonant

Infant dialect discrimination.

To understand speech, infants must differentiate between phonetic changes that are linguistically contrastive and those that are not. Research has shown that infants are very sensitive to



Developmental aspects of cross-language speech perception.

Infants were shown to be able to discriminate both Hindi sound pairs, and support for the idea of a decrease in speech perceptual abilities wih age and experience was clearly evident with the rarer of the 2 non-English contrasts.

Phonemic and phonetic factors in adult cross-language speech perception.

Results suggest that the previously observed ontogenetic modification in the perception of non-native phonetic contrasts involves a change in processing strategies rather than a sensorineural loss.

Examination of perceptual reorganization for nonnative speech contrasts: Zulu click discrimination by English-speaking adults and infants.

It is hypothesized that a phonemic process appears around 10-12 months that assimilates speech sounds to native categories whenever possible; otherwise, they are perceived in auditory or phonetic (articulatory) terms.

Training non-native speech contrasts in adults: Acquisition of the English /ð/-/θ/ contrast by francophones

Speech perception abilities are modified by linguistic experience to maximize sensitivity to acoustic contrasts that are important for one’s linguistic community, while reducing sensitivity to other

Speech perception in early infancy: perceptual constancy for spectrally dissimilar vowel categories.

  • P. Kuhl
  • Physics, Psychology
    The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
  • 1979
Both experiments provide strong evidence that the six-month-old infant recognizes acoustic categories that conform to the vowel categories perceived by adult speakers of English.

Cross-language evidence for three factors in speech perception

The combined results from the three experiments provide support for the existence of three distinct speech-perception factors.

Linguistic experience and phonemic perception in infancy: a crosslinguistic study.

English- and Spanish-learning infants were tested for perception of 2 synthetic speech contrasts differing in voice onset time and the role of linguistic experience in the development of speech perception skills in infancy is discussed.

Differential use of temporal cues to the /s/-/z/ contrast by native and non-native speakers of English.

The results suggested that the non-native subjects used cues established for the perception of phonetic contrasts in their native language to identify fricatives as /s/ or /z/, although the effect was smaller for native speakers of French than for natives of the other languages.

Some effects of laboratory training on identification and discrimination of voicing contrasts in stop consonants.

The present results demonstrate that the perceptual mechanisms used by adults in categorizing stop consonants can be modified easily with simple laboratory techniques in a short period of time.