Edited by Pilar Prieto and Núria Esteve-Gibert
[Trends in Language Acquisition Research 23] 2018
► pp. 59–77
Chapter 4. The role of prosody in early word learning
Successful word learning in first language acquisition requires three components: segmentation of words from a continuous speech stream, identification of real-word referents or concepts, and mapping of linguistic label to meaning. This review presents behavioral evidence for how prosody is integral to each of these processes, with particular prosodic structures creating optimal word learning environments. Different prosodic strategies aid the three facets of word learning, with rhythm, stress, intonation, and phrasing interacting to facilitate learning. For example, recent behavioral work shows that word learning is enhanced when words appear at prosodic phrase boundaries and when new words carry a more prominent pitch accent. Finally, an integrative account of word learning is discussed in light of these findings.
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