Using the Headturn Preference Procedure to Assess Word Segmentation Skills in Dutch Infants

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Among the many skills infants must develop in their first year of life in order to acquire language is the ability to segment words from fluent speech. Literature in the past decades has come a long way in uncovering how and when this ability emerges, much of it using the Headturn Preference Procedure (HPP). Though Dutch infants have been shown in EEG experiments to be able to perform word segmentation (Junge, Cutler, and Hagoort, 2012), there are few successful experiments with Dutch infants using the HPP. These studies suggest a delay in the emergence of segmentation skills in Dutch infants (Kuijpers, Coolen, Houston, and Cutler, 1998). It has been hypothesized that the order of presentation used in these studies (familiarization with words in isolation, test with passages) makes the task more difficult (Nazzi, Iakimova, Bertoncini, Frédonie, and Alcantara, 2006) than familiarization with words in passages. The prese! nt study aimed to test Dutch infants on a word-segmentation task using the HPP with familiarization with word in passages and testing with words in isolation. As hypothesized, Dutch infants were able to correctly segment words from fluent speech under these circumstances. Our results support the interpretation that there is a benefit to the passages-first order of presentation, though word segmentation tasks may still emerge later for Dutch than American infants. Keywords: headturn preference procedure, word segmentation, Dutch infants, order of presentation
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