Cross-linguistic comparison of utterance shapes in Korean- and English-learning children: An ambient language effect

Seunghee Ha, Cynthia J. Johnson, Kimbrough D. Oller, Hyunjoo Yoo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study compared vocal development in Korean- and English-learning infants and examined ambient-language effects focusing on predominant utterance shapes. Vocalization samples were obtained from 14 Korean-learning children and 14 English-learning children, who ranged in age from 9 to 21 months, in monolingual environments using day-long audio recordings. The analyzers, who were blind to participants’ demographic information, identified utterance shapes to determine functional vocal repertoires through naturalistic listening simulating the caregiver's natural mode of listening. The results showed no cross-linguistic differences in the amount of vocal output or the proportion of canonical syllables. However, the infants from the two language backgrounds showed differences regarding the predominant canonical utterance shapes. The percentage of VCV utterances in Korean-learning children was higher than in English-learning children while CV syllables predominated in the English-learning children. We speculate that the difference between the predominant utterance shapes of Korean- and English-learning children could be associated with differences in early lexical items typically acquired in the two language groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101528
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Ambient language
  • Canonical babbling
  • Cross-linguistic
  • Infant
  • Utterance shapes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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