Article published in:The Acquisition of Turkish in Childhood
Edited by Belma Haznedar and F. Nihan Ketrez
[Trends in Language Acquisition Research 20] 2016
► pp. 29–56
Sensitivity of Turkish infants to vowel harmony
Preference shift from familiarity to novelty
In a longitudinal study we found that 6- and 10-month-old monolingual Turkish infants are already sensitive to backness vowel harmony in stem-suffix sequences. Using a head-turn paradigm, listening times between 2 vowel-harmonic and 2 vowel-disharmonic lists of words for backness and rounding harmony were compared. While only main effects of age and trial were found for rounding harmony, in backness harmony a significant interaction between harmony and age was found: 6-month-olds preferred listening to harmonic words whereas 10-month-olds preferred listening to disharmonic words. This finding is reminiscent of the “familiarity-to-novelty-shift” in cognitive development, indicating that younger infants first extract the regular, harmonic pattern in their ambient language, whereas older infants’ attention is drawn to irregular, disharmonic tokens, due to violation-of-expectation.
Keywords: phonological development, head-turn paradigm, familiarity-to-novelty shift, Turkish vowel harmony
Published online: 18 November 2016
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