Language acquisition

Infant speech perception, language acquisition, and its effects on adult speech perception

My doctoral dissertation, supervised by Jacques Mehler (now at SISSA, Trieste), was primarily on the earliest perceptual abilities allowing newborns to bootstrap themselves into language acquisition. I have focused on their ability to perceive speech rhythm.

Ramus, F. (2002). Language discrimination by newborns: Teasing apart phonotactic, rhythmic, and intonational cues. Annual Review of Language Acquisition, 2, 85-115. pdf

See also:

Nazzi, T. & Ramus, F. (2003). Perception and acquisition of linguistic rhythm by infants. Speech Communication 41(1-2), 233-243.  

Mehler, J., Christophe, A., & Ramus, F. (2000). How infants acquire language: some preliminary observations. In A. Marantz, Y. Miyashita, & W. O'Neil (Eds.), Image, Language, Brain: Papers from the first Mind-Brain Articulation Project symposium (pp. 51-75). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. pdf

In collaboration with Peter Dominey (ISC, Lyon), I have also contributed to a neural network model of these perceptual capacities:

Dominey, P. F., & Ramus, F. (2000). Neural Network Processing of Natural Language: I. Sensitivity to Serial, Temporal and Abstract Structure in the Infant. Language and Cognitive Processes, 15(1), 87-127. pdf

Language acquisition significantly affects how one perceives speech as an adult. A collaboration with Isabelle Darcy (now in Potsdam) illustrates one aspect of this phenomenon:

Darcy, I., Ramus, F., Christophe, A., Kinzler, K., & Dupoux, E. (2009). Phonological knowledge in compensation for native and non-native assimilation. In F. Kügler, C. Féry & R. van de Vijver (Eds.), Variation and Gradience in Phonetics and Phonology (pp. 265-309). Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter.pdf

See also our recent synthesis on the acquisition of phonology:

Ramus, F., Peperkamp, S., Christophe, A., Jacquemot, C., Kouider, S., & Dupoux, E. (2010). A psycholinguistic perspective on the acquisition of phonology. In C. Fougeron, B. Kühnert, M. d'Imperio & N. Vallée (Eds.), Laboratory Phonology 10: Variation, Phonetic Detail and Phonological Representation (pp. 311-340). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.preprint