The effect of Kana literacy acquisition on the speech segmentation unit used by Japanese young children.

Journal of experimental child psychology

PubMedID: 10660904

Inagaki K, Hatano G, Otake T. The effect of Kana literacy acquisition on the speech segmentation unit used by Japanese young children. J Exp Child Psychol. 2000;75(1):70-91.
Three experiments were undertaken to investigate whether young children's segmentation units would change as they learned to read kana letters, which represent morae (subsyllabic rhythmic units). The first 2 experiments used a vocal-motor segmentation task to examine whether 4- to 6-year-olds preferred to segment spoken words containing the special syllables CVN, CVQ, or CV: into syllables or into morae. The third experiment used a target monitoring task for CVN to examine whether children's detection of the target syllable in a series of words would vary depending on the moraic constitution of the target and the moraic-syllabic status of the word initial in which the target was embedded. Results indicated that the children's conscious segmentation of words, except for those having a geminate stop consonant (CVQ), developed from being a mixture of syllable- and mora-based to being predominantly mora-based as they learned to read kana letters. The tendency toward mora-based segmentation was also found in the target monitoring task, which required segmentation at a less conscious level.