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Frequency and form as determinants of functor sensitivity in English-acquiring infants
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High-frequency functors are arguably among the earliest perceived word forms and may assist extraction of initial vocabulary items. Canadian 11- and -olds were familiarized to pseudo-nouns following either a high-frequency functor the or a low-frequency functor her versus phonetically similar mispronunciations of each, kuh and ler, and then tested for recognition of the pseudo-nouns. A preceding the (but not kuh, her, ler) facilitated extraction of the pseudo-nouns for -olds; the is thus well-specified in form for these infants. However, both the and kuh (but not her-ler) facilitated segmentation for -olds, suggesting an initial underspecified representation of high-frequency functors.
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