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The Speech Processing Lexicon

Neurocognitive and Behavioural Approaches

Ed. by Lahiri, Aditi / Kotzor, Sandra

Series:Phonology and Phonetics [PP] 22

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Publication Date:
April 2017
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How category learning occurs in adults and children

Sereno, Joan A.


A central issue in the field of speech perception involves phonetic category formation. The present chapter examines speech category learning in order to understand how linguistic categories develop. One productive approach has been to examine how second language categories are learned, with recent research showing that the adult perceptual system is more plastic than previously thought. The present chapter extends this research on the learning of second language contrasts by investigating how this learning occurs. Little is known about the acquisition pattern itself, that is, the time course of learning. Is the learning of a new language contrast a slow gradual process or does learning exhibit spurts of rapid growth punctuated by periods of little change? This proposed chapter also examines age differences in the acquisition patterns, addressing whether acquisition is faster and/or qualitatively different in adults as compared to children. The present chapter thus provides a view of the acquisition of novel language contrasts by adults and children, contributing to understanding how listeners are able to learn new phonetic categories and clarifying the temporal constraints in learning these new phonetic contrasts.

Citation Information

Joan A. Sereno (2017). How category learning occurs in adults and children. In Aditi Lahiri, Sandra Kotzor (Eds.), The Speech Processing Lexicon: Neurocognitive and Behavioural Approaches (pp. 193–210). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110422658-010

Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110422658

Online ISBN: 9783110422658

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/BostonGet Permission

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