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Abstract or Description

When children learn about minimal-pair phonemes (such as /d/ and /t/) is it specific to word position or does their knowledge of the phoneme generalize to all word-positions? Previous research has shown that 14-month old infants are able to be trained to use phonemic distinctions in the word-initial position. The set of experiments conducted in this study aim to see if 14- month old infants can be taught to use phonetic distinctions in word final-position using similar training used to help them use phonetic distinctions in word-initial position. The results indicate that similar training fails to help them discriminate between /d/ and /t/ at the end of words. However, preliminary results suggest that older infants can effectively learn to use this phonetic distinction word-finally when taught words that have /d/ and /t/ occurring word-finally. One implication from this study is that learning phonemes is specific and not abstract.


Erik Thiessen, advisor

Department of Psychology