Katherine Demuth

Katherine Demuth
Macquarie University · Department of Linguistics

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287
Publications
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Introduction
Skills and Expertise

Publications

Publications (287)
Article
Rapid processing of spoken language is aided by the ability to predict upcoming words using both semantic and syntactic cues. However, although children with hearing loss (HL) can predict upcoming words using semantic associations, little is known about their ability to predict using syntactic dependencies such as subject–verb (SV) agreement. This...
Article
Producing word-initial /s/-stop clusters can be a challenge for English-speaking pre-schoolers. For children with hearing loss (HL), fricatives can be also difficult to perceive, raising questions about their production and representation of /s/-stop clusters. The goal of this study was therefore to determine if pre-schoolers with HL can produce an...
Article
It is often assumed that pre-schoolers learn a second language (L2) with ease, even for structures that are absent in their L1, such as Mandarin-speaking pre-schoolers learning L2 English grammatical inflections (e.g., duck s , hors es ). However, while the results from Study 1 showed that such learners can imitate plural words (age = 3;5, N = 20),...
Article
Purpose Children with hearing loss (HL), including those with hearing aids (HAs) and cochlear implants (CIs), often have difficulties contrasting words like “ b each ” versus “ p each ” and “ do g ” versus “ do ck ” due to challenges producing systematic voicing contrasts. Even when acoustic contrasts are present, these may not be perceived as such...
Article
Objectives: Children with cochlear implants (CIs) face challenges in acquiring tones, since CIs do not transmit pitch information effectively. It has been suggested that longer CI experience provides additional benefits for children implanted early, enabling them to achieve language abilities similar to that of normal hearing (NH) children (Collett...
Article
Listeners readily anticipate upcoming sentence constituents, however little is known about prediction when the input is suboptimal, such as for children with hearing loss (HL). Here we examined whether children with hearing aids and/or cochlear implants use semantic context to predict upcoming spoken sentence completions. We expected reduced predic...
Article
Learning to use word versus phrase level prosody to identify compounds from lists is thought to be a protracted process, only acquired by 11 years (Vogel & Raimy, 2002). However, a recent study has shown that 5-year-olds can use prosodic cues other than stress for these two structures in production , at least for early-acquired noun-noun compounds...
Article
While voicing contrasts in word-onset position are acquired relatively early, much less is known about how and when they are acquired in word-coda position, where accurate production of these contrasts is also critical for distinguishing words (e.g., do g vs. do ck ). This study examined how the acoustic cues to coda voicing contrasts are realized...
Article
Voicing contrasts are lexically important for differentiating words in many languages (e.g., “bear” vs “pear”). Temporal differences in the voice onset time (VOT) and closure duration (CD) contribute to the voicing contrast in word-onset position. However, little is known about the acoustic realization of these voicing contrasts in Australian Engli...
Article
Full-text available
Maternal depression and anxiety have been proposed to increase the risk of adverse outcomes of language development in the early years of life. This study investigated the effects of maternal depression and anxiety on language development using two approaches: (i) a categorical approach that compared lexical abilities in two groups of children, a r...
Article
Purpose The plural is one of the first grammatical morphemes acquired by English-speaking children with normal hearing (NH). Yet, those with hearing loss show delays in both plural comprehension and production. However, little is known about the effects of unilateral hearing loss (UHL) on children's acquisition of the plural, where children's abili...
Article
Objective Recent literature has highlighted a link between hearing loss as a result of otitis media in the early years of life and impacted binaural processing skills in later childhood. Such findings are of particular relevance to Indigenous Australian children, who tend to experience otitis media earlier in life and for longer periods than their...
Article
Full-text available
This longitudinal study investigated the effects of maternal emotional health concerns, on infants' home language environment, vocalization quantity, and expressive language skills. Mothers and their infants (at 6 and 12 months; 21 mothers with depression and or anxiety and 21 controls) provided day-long home-language recordings. Compared with cont...
Article
Processing speech can be slow and effortful for children, especially in adverse listening conditions, such as the classroom. This can have detrimental effects on children’s academic achievement. We therefore asked whether primary school children’s speech processing could be made faster and less effortful via the presentation of visual speech cues (...
Conference Paper
Children with cochlear implants (CIs) learning tonal languages such as Mandarin Chinese face challenges in acquiring tones due to the limitation of devices in coding pitch information. Mandarin has four lexical tones and a neutral tone. A recent study [7] showed that Mandarin-learning preschoolers who were early-implanted (implanted between 1-2 yea...
Article
Although previous research has indicated that five-year-olds can use acoustic cues to disambiguate compounds (N 1 + N 2 ) from lists (N 1 , N 2 ) (e.g., ‘ ice - cream ’ vs. ‘ ice, cream ’) (Yoshida & Katz, 2004, 2006), their productions are not yet fully adult-like (Wells, Peppé & Goulandris, 2004). The goal of this study was to examine this issue...
Article
Exemplar-based learning requires (i) a segmentation procedure for identifying the units of past experiences that a present experience can be compared to, and (ii) a similarity function for comparing these past experiences to the present experience. This article argues that for a learner to learn a language these two mechanisms will require abstract...
Article
Purpose Normal-hearing (NH) children acquire plural morphemes at different rates, with the segmental allomorphs /–s, –z/ (e.g., cat-s ) being acquired before the syllabic allomorph /–əz/ (e.g., bus-es ). Children with hearing loss (HL) have been reported to show delays in the production of plural morphology, raising the possibility that this might...
Article
English-speaking children use plural morphology from around the age of 2, yet often omit the syllabic plural allomorph /-əz/ until age 5 (e.g., bus(es)). It is not clear if this protracted acquisition is due to articulatory difficulties, low input frequency, or fricative-final words (e.g., bus, nose) being treated as already plural, raising questio...
Article
Full-text available
This study investigates a low-frequency verbal inflection called the “narrative past” in child and child-directed speech in the Bantu language Sesotho. Since the function of the Sesotho narrative past is not well-described, this study aimed to illuminate both function and acquisition trends in the Demuth Sesotho Corpus (Demuth, 1992). The narrative...
Article
Subject–verb (SV) agreement helps listeners interpret the number condition of ambiguous nouns ( The sheep is/are fat ), yet it remains unclear whether young children use agreement to comprehend newly encountered nouns. Preschoolers and adults completed a forced choice task where sentences contained singular vs. plural copulas ( Where is/are the [no...
Article
Phonological processes can pose a learning challenge for children, where the surface form for an underlying contrast may vary as a function of the phonological environment. Mandarin tone sandhi is a complex phonological process which requires knowledge about both the tonal and prosodic context in which it applies. The present study explored the pro...
Article
Objective: Research has found that otitis media (OM) is highly prevalent in Australian Indigenous children, and repeated bouts of OM is often associated with minimal-to-moderate hearing loss. However, what is not yet clear is the extent to which OM with hearing loss impacts auditory signal processing specifically, but also binaural listening, list...
Article
Previous intermodal preferential looking (IPL) studies have found that children learning English acquire knowledge of plural allomorphs incrementally. The segmental plural /-s/ (e.g., cats) is understood at 24 months of age, whereas the syllabic plural /-əz/ (e.g., buses) is not comprehended until 36 months. Production studies also show ongoing cha...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Children with cochlear implants (CIs) face challenges in acquiring tones, as CIs do not transmit pitch information effectively. In connected speech, tones undergo modification, known as tone sandhi processes. In Mandarin, tone sandhi changes the realization of tone 3 (T3) across tonal contexts, resulting in allophonic variants. Previous studies hav...
Article
Punjabi (Western, ISO-639-3 pnb) is an Indo-Aryan language (Indo-European, Indo-Iranian) spoken in Pakistan and India, and in immigrant communities in the UK, Canada, USA, and elsewhere. In terms of number of native speakers, it is ranked 10th among the world’s languages, with more than 100 million speakers (Lewis, Simons & Fennig 2016). Aspects of...
Article
Phonological processes result in surface variants of the same words across phonological contexts, posing potential word learning challenges for children. Mandarin tone sandhi is a tonal process changing Tone 3 (T3) in different tonal and syntactic contexts, resulting in allophonic variants of T3 in connected speech. Previous studies found that Mand...
Article
Hyper-articulation of vowel and consonant contrasts is often reported in infant-directed speech (IDS), but is not universal cross-linguistically, and may be a side-effect of speaking rate. This study investigated the voicing characteristics of the four-way oral stop voicing contrast in Nepali IDS. Both lead and lag time of word-onset/ɡ, ɡʱ, k, kʱ/w...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose: Children with cochlear implants (CIs) face challenges in acquiring tonal languages, as CIs do not efficiently code pitch information. Mandarin is a tonal language with lexical tones and tonal processes such as neutral tone and tone sandhi, exhibiting contextually conditioned tonal realizations. Previous studies suggest that early implantat...
Article
Full-text available
Foreign accents have been shown to have considerable impact on how language is processed [1]. However, the impact of a foreign accent on semantic processing is not well understood. Conflicting results have been reported by previous event-related potential (ERP) studies investigating the impact of foreign-accentedness on the N400 effect elicited by...
Data
Grand average waveforms for semantically congruent and incongruent conditions for the native-speaker and foreign-accented-speaker conditions shown by participants with less familiarity with foreign-accented speech. Negativity is plotted downwards. Grey boxes represent the time periods of the significant differences between congruent and incongruent...
Data
Grand average waveforms for semantically congruent and incongruent conditions for the native-speaker and foreign-accented-speaker conditions shown by participants with greater familiarity with foreign-accented speech. Negativity is plotted downwards. Grey boxes represent the time periods of the significant differences between congruent and incongru...
Article
Full-text available
This study examined the relative contributions of three factors to individual differences in vocabulary development: the acoustic quality of mothers’ speech, the quantity of mothers’ speech, and infants’ ability to recognize words. To examine the quality and quantity of mothers’ speech, recordings were collected from 48 mothers when their infants w...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Cochlear implants (CIs) have made oral communication an obtainable goal for children with hearing loss. However, acquiring tones is difficult, since CIs cannot transmit pitch effectively [1]. Mandarin has four lexical tones (T1-4), acquired by children with normal hearing (NH) before age 3 [2]. In addition, Mandarin has contextual tones: neutral to...
Article
Full-text available
Weak syllables in Germanic and Romance languages have been reported to be challenging for young children, with syllable omission and/or incomplete reduction persisting till age 5. In Mandarin Chinese, neutral tone (T0) involves a weak syllable with varied pitch realizations across (preceding) tonal contexts and short duration. The present study exa...
Article
V1.V2 hiatus is disallowed in many languages. In several varieties of English, when V1 is non-high, hiatus may be resolved by glottalization or /ɹ/ insertion. However, it is not well understood why speakers choose one over the other. In addition, questions remain about how foot boundary influences the hiatus-breaking strategy and whether perceived...
Article
In sum, recent findings suggest that there may be a closer connection between perception and production abilities than often thought, with individual differences emerging in both. This can be illuminated by collecting multiple language/gesture/ cognitive measures on the same children, shedding light on the nature of individual differences (cf. Cris...
Article
Full-text available
Large numbers of children around the world are learning tone languages, but few studies have examined the acoustic properties of children's early tone productions. Even more scarce are acquisition studies on tone sandhi, a tone change phenomenon which alters the surface realization of lexical tones. Two studies using perceptual coding report the em...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Indigenous infants and children in Australia, especially in remote communities, experience early and chronic otitis media (OM) which is difficult to treat and has lifelong impacts in health and education. The LiTTLe Program (Learning to Talk, Talking to Learn) aimed to increase infants' access to spoken language input, teach parents to...
Article
It has long been known that children may use a particular grammatical morpheme inconsistently at early stages of acquisition. Although this has often been thought to be evidence of incomplete syntactic representations, there is now a large body of crosslinguistic evidence showing that much of this early within-speaker variability is due to still de...
Article
Full-text available
Mandarin lexical tones are modified in both infant-directed speech (IDS) and Lombard speech, resulting in tone hyperarticulation. However, it is unclear if these registers also alter contextual tones (neutral tone and tone sandhi) and if such phonetic modification might affect acquisition of these tones. This study therefore examined how neutral to...
Article
Children are known to use different types of referential gestures (e.g., deictic, iconic) from a very young age. In contrast, their use of non-referential gestures is not well established. This study investigated the use of stroke-defined non-referential ‘beat’ gestures in a story-retelling and an exposition task by twelve 6-year-olds, an age at wh...
Article
Full-text available
Recent ERP research with adults has shown that the on-line processing of subject-verb (S-V) agreement violations is mediated by the relative perceptual salience of the violation (Dube et al. 2016). These findings corroborate infant perception research, which has also shown that perceptual salience influences infants’ sensitivity to grammatical viol...
Article
Full-text available
Attunement to native phonological categories and the specification of relevant phonological features in the lexicon occur early in development for monolingual and monodialectal speakers. However, few studies have investigated whether and how early exposure to two dialects of a language might influence the development of phonological categories, esp...
Article
Full-text available
Speech units are reported to be hyperarticulated in both infant-directed speech (IDS) and Lombard speech. Since these two registers have typically been studied separately, it is unclear if the same speech units are hyperarticulated in the same manner between these registers. The aim of the present study is to compare the effect of register on vowel...
Article
The phonological category “retroflex” is found in many Indo-Aryan languages; however, it has not been clearly established which acoustic characteristics reliably differentiate retroflexes from other coronals. This study investigates the acoustic phonetic properties of Punjabi retroflex /ʈ/ and dental /ʈ̪/ in word-medial and word-initial contexts ac...
Article
Purpose: The aim of this paper was to explore how the type of allomorph (e.g., past tense buzz[d] vs. nod[əd]) influences the ability to perceive and produce grammatical morphemes in children with typical development (TD) and with Specific Language Impairment (SLI). Method: The participants were monolingual Australian-English-speaking children. Th...
Article
Purpose: Non-rhotic varieties of English often use /ɹ/ insertion as a connected speech process to separate heterosyllabic V1.V2 hiatus contexts. However, there has been little research on children's development of this strategy. This study investigated whether children use /ɹ/ insertion and, if so, whether hiatus-breaking /ɹ/ can be considered pla...
Article
Morphophonological alternations can make target-like production of grammatical morphemes challenging due to changes in form depending on the phonological environment. This paper explores the acquisition of morphophonological alternations involving the interacting patterns of vowel deletion and stress shift in Russian-speaking children (aged 4;0–7;1...
Article
Full-text available
Learning about what young children with limited spoken language know about the grammar of their language is extremely challenging. Researchers have traditionally used looking behavior as a measure of language processing and to infer what overt choices children might make. However, these methods are expensive to setup, require specialized training,...
Article
Many English-speaking children use plural nominal forms in spontaneous speech before the age of two, and display some understanding of plural inflection in production tasks. However, results from an intermodal preferential study suggested a lack of comprehension of nominal plural morphology at 24 months of age (Kouider, Halberda, Wood, & Carey, 200...
Article
Previous research mainly with monolingual children shows a positive relationship between English skills and emotion regulation. No study to date has examined if or how learning of grammatical morphemes might be associated with emotion regulation among bilingual preschoolers. This study examined how Mandarin-English bilingual preschoolers performed...
Article
It has been hypothesized that musical expertise is associated with enhanced auditory processing and cognitive abilities. Recent research has examined the relationship between musicians’ advantage and implicit statistical learning skills. In the present study, we assessed a variety of auditory processing skills, cognitive processing skills, and stat...
Article
Full-text available
Previous ERP studies have often reported two ERP components—LAN and P600—in response to subject-verb (S-V) agreement violations (e.g., the boys * runs). However, the latency, amplitude and scalp distribution of these components have been shown to vary depending on various experiment-related factors. One factor that has not received attention is the...
Article
Objectives: The purpose of this study is to assess the use of discourse strategies and the production of prosody by prelingually deaf adolescent users of cochlear implants (CIs) when participating in a referential communication task. We predict that CI users will issue more directives (DIRs) and make less use of information requests (IRs) in compl...
Article
Social and linguistic explanations have been proposed for pronoun reversals in young typically developing (TD) children and those with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The current study breaks new ground in investigating both explanations, comparing 18 TD toddlers and 15 children with ASD at similar language levels. Spontaneous speech was sampled e...
Presentation
Background: The past 5-10 years has seen open plan classrooms growing in popularity in Australian primary schools. The purpose of this study was to investigate Kindergarten children’s speech perception accuracy and speed in different types of classrooms found in Sydney. Method: Four classrooms were chosen for the study: a single Kindergarten classr...
Article
A growing body of research with typically developing children has begun to show that the acquisition of grammatical morphemes interacts not only with a developing knowledge of syntax, but also with developing abilities at the interface with prosodic phonology. In particular, a Prosodic Licensing approach to these issues provides a framework for und...
Article
Open plan classrooms, where several class bases share the same space, have recently re-emerged in Australian primary schools. This study compared the acoustics of four different Kindergarten classrooms: an enclosed classroom with 25 students, a double classroom with 44 students, a linear fully open plan triple classroom with 91 students, and a semi...