<i> </i>The perception of lexical stress patterns by Spanish and Catalan infants
Previous research with English-learning infants has shown that stress cues can have a powerful influence on early word segmentation. Early sensitivity to the predominant lexical stress pattern (trochaic) in the native language has been observed in English and German, two stress-timed languages (Jusczyk, Cutler & Redanz 1993; Höhle 2002). In this paper, we offer data from two syllable-timed languages: Catalan and Spanish. We report experiments aimed at studying infants’ preferential patterns and discrimination abilities for trochaic vs iambic word forms. Results indicate that neither six-month-old nor nine-month-old Catalan- and Spanish-learning infants show a preference for either stress pattern, although they are able to discriminate between them. It is argued that failure to observe a trochaic preference can be attributed to frequency factors of specific lexical stress patterns in these languages. Stress cues alone would not be sufficient for early lexical segmentation in this case.