Different Accents May Affect Infants’ Language Processing Children in monolingual homes with multiple accents may recognize words differently than their peers. A study from the University at Buffalo, published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, looked at two groups of typically developing English-learners. One group was exposed exclusively to Canadian-accented English, while the high-variability ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   March 01, 2018
Different Accents May Affect Infants’ Language Processing
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Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Normal Language Processing / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   March 01, 2018
Different Accents May Affect Infants’ Language Processing
The ASHA Leader, March 2018, Vol. 23, 16. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB3.23032018.16
The ASHA Leader, March 2018, Vol. 23, 16. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB3.23032018.16
Children in monolingual homes with multiple accents may recognize words differently than their peers.
A study from the University at Buffalo, published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, looked at two groups of typically developing English-learners. One group was exposed exclusively to Canadian-accented English, while the high-variability group was exposed to multiple accents (such as Irish- or Polish-accented English).
The students included 20 infants, age 12.5 months, who received at least 90 percent of their language input in English. Researchers used the Headturn Preference Procedure to test infants on word recognition while seated on a parent’s lap in the lab. The children heard typically known common words, such as daddy, mommy, bottle, ball. They then heard nonsense words (such as dimma, mitty, guttle).
Children from single-accent homes showed a preference for real words in the lab, while those exposed to multiple accents showed no preference for real or nonsense words.

Children from single-accent homes show a preference for real words in the lab, while those exposed to multiple accents showed no preference.

A second experiment with 20 different 18-month-old children showed that children from multiple-accent environments no longer had difficulty recognizing real words.
“What we’re concluding is that children who hear multiple accents process language differently than those who hear a single accent,” says lead author Marieke van Heugten, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University at Buffalo. “We should be aware of this difference and keep in mind as a factor prediction behavior in test settings, especially when testing children from diverse areas in the world.”
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March 2018
Volume 23, Issue 3