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Étude d'un biais prosodique précoce : le cas de la loi iambo-trochaïque

Abstract : The goal of this doctoral dissertation was to explore the mechanisms underlying linguistic prosodic perception. Prosody is carried in the speech signal by a number of acoustic cues, including duration, intensity and pitch. Importantly for language acquisition, prosody could help infants learn words and word order in their native language. Therefore, we studied a mechanism that could support these early prosodic abilities: the iambic/trochaic law (ITL). The ITL (Woodrow, 1909; Hayes, 1995; Nespor et al., 2008) is a mechanism that organizes auditory perception and was proposed to have an important role not only in adult speech perception but also in language acquisition in infancy. The ITL states that sounds (e.g., syllables, musical notes, etc.) contrasting in intensity/pitch form pairs with initial prominence, i.e., a trochaic pattern (strong-weak or high-low), and those contrasting in duration form pairs with final prominence, i.e., an iambic pattern (short-long). However, languages differ in how these acoustic cues mark prosodic prominence both at the level of words and of phonological phrases. For example, French has no lexical stress but has phrase-final stress, the last syllable of the phrase being lengthened, creating a short-long pattern (duration-based iambic pattern). Conversely, in English or in German, lexical stress is usually on the first syllable, which has higher intensity and/or pitch (intensity- or pitch-based trochaic pattern). Listeners' language background is therefore likely to interact with the ITL bias. This thesis is divided into two main parts. First, in a segmentation / syllable pair recognition task, we found that sensitivity to the ITL was present in French and German adults (Exp. 1) and 7.5-month-old infants (Exp. 2). We found weak cross-linguistic differences between the two language groups for the intensity grouping in adults and infants. Secondly, using NIRS (Near InfraRed Spectroscopy), we measured cortical responses in newborns and demonstrated that sensitivity to the ITL was present at birth and were already influenced by the language the infants heard in utero (Exp. 3-6). Finally, we observed how language background influences the ability to discriminate lexical stress patterns in 10-month-olds (Exp. 7). Our findings show that bilingual infants simultaneously learning French and a language with variable lexical stress were able to discriminate stress patterns whereas monolingual French infants could not. Taken together, our results contribute to a better understanding of the developmental origin of the ITL, its modulation by linguistic experience, and language-specific processing and rhythmic preferences.
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Nawal Abboub. Étude d'un biais prosodique précoce : le cas de la loi iambo-trochaïque. Psychologie. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2015. Français. ⟨NNT : 2015USPCB001⟩. ⟨tel-01865814⟩



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