The Development of Spontaneous Sound-Shape Matching in Monolingual and Bilingual Infants During the First Year
Recently it has been proposed that sensitivity to nonarbitrary relationships between speech sounds and objects potentially bootstraps lexical acquisition. However, it is currently unclear whether preverbal infants (e.g., before 6 months of age) with different linguistic profiles are sensitive to such nonarbitrary relationships. Here, the authors assessed 4- and 12-month-old Basque monolingual and Spanish-Basque bilingual infants’ sensitivity to cross-modal correspondences between sound symbolic nonwords without syllable repetition (buba, kike) and drawings of rounded and angular shapes. The findings demonstrate that sensitivity to sound-shape correspondences emerge by 12 months of age in both monolinguals and bilinguals. This finding suggests that spontaneous sound-shape matching is likely to be the product of language learning and development and may not be readily available prior to the onset of word learning.