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No perceptual reorganization for Limburgian tones? A cross-linguistic investigation with 6- to 12-month-old infants*



Despite the fact that many of the world's languages use lexical tone, the majority of language acquisition studies has focused on non-tone languages. Research on tone languages has typically investigated well-known tone languages such as Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese. The current study looked at a Limburgian dialect of Dutch that uses lexical pitch differences, albeit in a rather restricted way. Using a visual habituation paradigm, 6- to 12-month-old Limburgian and Dutch infants were tested for their ability to discriminate Limburgian tones. The results showed that both Limburgian and Dutch infants discriminate the Limburgian tones throughout their first year of life. The role of linguistic experience, acoustic salience, and the degree of similarity to the native prosodic system are discussed.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Stefanie Ramachers, Erasmusplein 1, Nijmegen 6500 HD, the Netherlands. e-mail:


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This research was supported by a grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (322-75-001) to the first author, and appears as part of the first author's dissertation. Thanks to all participating parents and their infants from Nijmegen and Roermond, the Baby Research Center in Nijmegen, daycare center ‘Ot en Sien’ in Roermond, and GGD Limburg Noord in Roermond. We also thank Carlos Gussenhoven for his helpful knowledge and advice on the Limburgian tones and on stimuli preparation, as well as for his feedback on earlier drafts of this paper. Thanks also to the research group First Language Acquisition at Radboud University Nijmegen for valuable discussion, and to two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper.



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No perceptual reorganization for Limburgian tones? A cross-linguistic investigation with 6- to 12-month-old infants*



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