, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 105-109

Perception of a phonetic contrast in multisyllabic utterances by 2-month-old infants


In the present study, three aspects of the 2-month-old’s perception of multisyllabic utterances were explored. First, do infants perceive phonetic contrasts occurring either in the initial (Bada-Gada) or medial (Daba-Daga) positions of multisyllabic utterances? Second, are infants more likely to perceive these contrasts in stressed as opposed to unstressed syllables? Third, will infants detect a difference between two stress patterns? Our results indicate the following: (1) Two-month-olds are sensitive to place-of-articulation differences occurring in either the initial or medial positions of multisyllabic stimuli. (2) Whether the contrast occurred between stressed or unstressed syllables had little or no effect on the infant’s ability to detect it. (3) Infants as young as 2-months old respond to differences between stress patterns.

A version of this paper was presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, New Orleans, March 19, 1977. This research was supported by grants to the first author from the National Research Council and from the Faculty of Graduate Studies, Dalhousie University.