Professor Kuniko Nielsen (Oakland University) will present in Phondi today. The title and abstract of her presentation follows below.
Developmental changes in phonological representation: an investigation using the imitation paradigm
This study investigates the developmental changes in phonological representation, by examining the word- and phoneme-level specificity of phonetic imitation by children. Prevailing linguistic theories assume three levels of phonological representations: word, phoneme, and feature. Previous research suggests that phonological representations develop throughout childhood, and that phonological awareness develops from larger to smaller units (e.g., Edwards et al., 2004; Treiman & Zukowski, 1996). It has also been shown that adult speakers implicitly imitate the phonetic properties of recently heard speech (e.g. Goldinger, 1998). More recently, Nielsen (2011) showed that imitation can be generalized at phoneme- and feature-level yet can also be word-specific at the same time, indicating that three levels of phonological representations simultaneously contribute to the observed patterns of phonetic imitation. In order to test whether young children manifest similar patterns of imitation and specificity as adult speakers, an experiment with a modified imitation paradigm with a picture-naming task was conducted, in which participants' VOT was compared before and after they were exposed to target speech with
artificially increased VOT. Our preliminary results reveal that the two groups of children (5 year-olds and 8 year-olds) show comparable degree of overall imitation, while word-and phoneme-level specificity was greater for 8 year-olds than 5 year-olds. These results provide support for the continued development of phonological representations.