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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  2. In six experiments we explored how biphone probability and lexical neighborhood density influence listeners’ categorization of vowels embedded in nonword sequences. We found independent effects of each. Listeners shifted categorization of a phonetic continuum to create a higher probability sequence, even when neighborhood density was controlled. Similarly, listeners shifted categorization to create a nonword from a denser neighborhood, even when biphone probability was controlled. Next, using a visual world eye-tracking task, we determined that biphone probability information is used rapidly by listeners in perception. In contrast, task complexity and irrelevant variability in the stimuli interfere with neighborhood density effects. These results support a model in which both biphone probability and neighborhood density independently affect word recognition, but only biphone probability effects are observed early in processing. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 9, 2024
  3. null (Ed.)
  4. Abstract

    Each language has its unique way to mark grammatical information such as gender, number and tense. For example, English marks number and tense/aspect information with morphological suffixes (e.g., ‐sor ‐ed). These morphological suffixes are crucial for language acquisition as they are the basic building blocks of syntax, encode relationships, and convey meaning. Previous research shows that English‐learning infants recognize morphological suffixes attached to nonce words by the end of the first year, although even 8‐month‐olds recognize them when they are attached to known words. These results support an acquisition trajectory where discovery of meaning guides infants' acquisition of morphological suffixes. In this paper, we re‐evaluated English–learning infants' knowledge of morphological suffixes in the first year of life. We found that 6–month–olds successfully segmented nonce words suffixed with–s,–ing,–edand a pseudo‐morpheme ‐sh. Additionally, they related nonce words suffixed with–s, but not ‐ing, ‐edor a pseudo‐morpheme–shand stems. By 8–months, infants were also able to relate nonce words suffixed with–ingand stems. Our results show that infants demonstrate knowledge of morphological relatedness from the earliest stages of acquisition. They do so even in the absence of access to meaning. Based on these results, we argue for a developmental timeline where the acquisition of morphology is, at least, concurrent with the acquisition of phonology and meaning.

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