Speaker: Anne Cutler (UWS)
Title: From speech to words - a lifetime task
Listeners can only make sense of the continuous stream of speech by identifying the components that comprise it - words. Infants have to learn how to do this in order to acquire words, and relative success at achieving speech segmentation in infancy turns out to be a good predictor of language skills later on. Adult listeners segment speech so efficiently, however, that they are virtually never aware of the operation of segmentation. In part they achieve this level of efficiency by exploiting knowledge of relevant structure in the native language, and continuously refining this - even if this means overturning constraints used, perhaps universally, by infants.