Marieke van Heugten
Department of Psychology
Children’s navigation of linguistic diversity
In many parts of the world, children grow up in linguistically diverse communities, where individuals differ tremendously in the way they speak. In order to develop mature communication skills, children must learn to rapidly accommodate all of these different speaking styles they encounter. This is not a trivial task, especially for young children whose cognitive and linguistic capacities have yet to fully mature. In this talk, I will show how language learners cope with accent-related variability in their input. In particular, I will address (i) how surface-level variation in the pronunciation of words affects children’s and adults’ word recognition, (ii) whether they adapt to unfamiliar variants of their native language, and (iii) what inferences listeners make about speakers based on their accent alone. The results of this work underline the incredible flexibility of early spoken language processing.
Snacks will be provided.