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Feb 15, 2016 03:59

The authors of this paper are following a precise research line, arguing for the hypothesis that children born with the ability to discrete between a set of universal phonemes that go beyond the phonetic contrast of the language they are exposed to, and that they lose this capacity once setting the parameters of the language they will start to talk and understand. With their research, they try to disprove the assumption that the language toward which children are exposed is fundamental in developing the distinction among sounds. In other words, for the authors an Italian child would be able to discrete between a set of sound that belong to the inventory of sound of Italian as well as an English or French child. Beside proving this point, the authors want to set an age-limit for this ability which it has been already proven to partially fade away in adults, who are mostly able to perceive contrasts only when they belong to their own language.
The research divided into three experiments which are functional to prove two hypotheses. As said, the first experiment confirmed the findings of previous works, which are that children and adults are different in recognizing foreign languages phonemic contrasts. The second and third experiments are set to individualize the exact age where children lose the ability to recognize them and start focusing on the contrasts which are present in the language they are acquiring. The difference between these two experiments is that while the first is an across language experiment and it studies children and adults with different mother-tongues, the second one is a longitudinal study which aim is to do the same experiment different times in order to caught the period-time within the ability to distinguish among sounds disappears.