Does hearing two dialects at different times help infants learn dialect-specific rules?

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14 Scopus citations


Infants might be better at teasing apart dialects with different language rules when hearing the dialects at different times, since language learners do not always combine input heard at different times. However, no previous research has independently varied the temporal distribution of conflicting language input. Twelve-month-olds heard two artificial language streams representing different dialects-a "pure stream" whose sentences adhered to abstract grammar rules like aX bY, and a "mixed stream" wherein any a- or b-word could precede any X- or Y-word. Infants were then tested for generalization of the pure stream's rules to novel sentences. Supporting our hypothesis, infants showed generalization when the two streams' sentences alternated in minutes-long intervals without any perceptually salient change across streams (Experiment 2), but not when all sentences from these same streams were randomly interleaved (Experiment 3). Results are interpreted in light of temporal context effects in word learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-71
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


  • Dynamic change
  • Memory development
  • Rule learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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