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date: 30 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The present chapter focuses on fluent speech segmentation abilities in early language development. We first review studies exploring the early use of major prosodic boundary cues which allow infants to cut full utterances into smaller-sized sequences like clauses or phrases. We then summarize studies showing that word segmentation abilities emerge around 8 months, and rely on infants’ processing of various bottom-up word boundary cues and top-down known word recognition cues. Given that most of these cues are specific to the language infants are acquiring, we emphasize how the development of these abilities varies cross-linguistically, and explore their developmental origin. In particular, we focus on two cues that might allow bootstrapping of these abilities: transitional probabilities and rhythmic units.

Keywords: word segmentation, infants, prosodic units, rhythmic units, transitional probabilities, cross-linguistic differences

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