The project “Acquisition of Lexical Phonological Contrasts” started in July 2006.



The aim of this project is twofold. First, the project aims to unravel the phonetic cues that German and Swiss infants use to recognise native speech sounds. For this, we focus in particular on acoustic cues for plosives (i.e. those speech sounds which are produced with complete closure in the oral tract followed by a release phase). Our second aim is to establish how children use this information to learn lexical contrasts and to build phonological representations in their mental lexicon. More specifically, we are interested in how the learner’s lexical representations develop over time. We focus on three stages: age 6-8 months (when children presumably are still able to recognise minor acoustic changes in the speech signal to which adult speakers are not sensitive), 10-12 months (when children pay more attention to details in the acoustic signal that are relevant to their native language) and 14-16 months (when children build underlying representations).