FRAL - Franco-allemand en sciences humaines et sociales

Multilevel prosodic processing in a crosslinguistic perspective – MUPROCROSS

Submission summary

Research on early language acquisition has shown that prosodic information is one of the earliest cues infants use to bootstrap into the acquisition of lexical and syntactic properties of the target language (e.g. Morgan & Demuth, 2006) and that infants acquire language specific prosodic properties within the first months of life (e.g. Höhle et al., 2009). Still, less is known regarding how general auditory mechanisms contribute to and are shaped by infants developing phonological system. Based on results from previous common work (Bijeljac-Babic et al., 2012, in press; Höhle et al., 2009), the present project approaches this issue taking a crosslinguistic view on monolingual French and German learning children, two languages that have crucial differences in their prosodic systems of word stress and prosodic phrasing. First, we will explore the acoustic factors that are implicated in the acquisition of the trochaic bias at the lexical level, by investigating infants sensitivity to the three main cues (duration, intensity, pitch) that are used to mark lexical stress in different languages. Second, we will explore infants and adults sensitivity to these same prosodic cues at the phrase level, given evidence that these cues are used differently at the two levels in French and German. In parallel, based on the results on monolinguals showing different patterns of stress processing in these two languages, we will investigate the development of the prosodic system in French-German bilinguals. The findings that infants early perceptual mechanisms are shaped by the phonological properties of the language in acquisition provide a specific challenge for bilingual language acquisition. This project will thus bring crucial data on bilingual language acquisition, an issue of great importance given the fact that most infants in the world grow up with more than one language. Our findings could also found applications in the domain of second language acquisition, by setting up training programs to enhance stress perception and production in French infants/adults. The use of same experimental procedures (HPP and ERPs) and the same materials by the German and the French partners will ensure comparability of the results and will allow for reliable insights into differences and similarities of early monolingual and bilingual acquisition of these two languages.

Project coordination

Ranka BIJELJAC-BABIC (Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


UMR 8158 Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception
Universität Potsdam, Department Linguistik

Help of the ANR 204,256 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: March 2014 - 36 Months

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