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Chung, Ting-ting (2003) SPEECH ACCENT CATEGORIZATION IN INFANCY. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The goal of this thesis is to investigate the period of time during which infants begin to categorize accents in natural speech, and the role of experience in mediating the development of speech accent categorization. The approach consists of establishing the adult state of speech accent categorization and measuring infants¡¦ speech accent categorization at 4 and 10 months using the infant-controlled visual habituation paradigm. The studies presented here were designed to examine if infants and adults can discriminate a local accent from a novel accent in the native language, if they can discriminate two novel accents in the native language, and if they can discriminate two accents in an unfamiliar language. Study 1 examined discrimination of the Western Pennsylvania accent, the Hispanic New York Bronx accent, and the Chinese accent in the English language by 26 native English speakers from Western Pennsylvania, and 17 native Chinese speakers from Taiwan. The same participants also categorized the Mainland and Taiwanese accents in the Chinese language. Participants in both linguistic groups were equally competent at categorizing accents in their native language, and they were equally poor at categorizing accents in the foreign language. Study 2 examined discrimination of the Western Pennsylvania accent and the Hispanic New York Bronx accent in the English language in 18 4-month-old and 20 10-month-old infants from the greater Pittsburgh area. The 10-month-old infants showed significant discrimination of the familiar accent from the novel one, whereas the 4-month-old infants failed to do so. Study 3 examined discrimination of the Hispanic New York Bronx accent and the Chinese accent in the English language in 16 10-month-old infants. These infants showed significant discrimination between the two unfamiliar accents. Study 4 examined discrimination of the Mainland and Taiwanese accents in the Chinese language in 20 4-month-old and 16 10-month-old infants. Both groups failed to discriminate accents in this foreign language. These studies demonstrate that the ability to categorize speech accent emerges by 10 months of age, is language-specific, and results from experience with the native language.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Chung, Ting-tingting@pitt.eduTING
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSTRAUSS, MARKstrauss@pitt.eduSTRAUSS
Committee MemberJOHNSON, CARLjohnson@pitt.eduJOHNSON
Committee MemberBROWNELL, CELIAbrownell@pitt.eduBROWNELL
Committee MemberRAKISON,
Date: 14 April 2003
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 21 November 2002
Approval Date: 14 April 2003
Submission Date: 18 December 2002
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Other ID:, etd-12182002-182201
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:11
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:54


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