Measuring (online) word segmentation in adults and children


  • Iris Broedelet Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication, University of Amsterdam
  • Paul Boersma Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication, University of Amsterdam
  • Judith Rispens Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication, University of Amsterdam



psycholinguistics, statistical learning, word segmentation task, click detection task, online measure


Since Saffran, Aslin and Newport (1996) showed that infants were sensitive to transitional probabilities between syllables after being exposed to a few minutes of fluent speech, there has been ample research on statistical learning. Word segmentation studies usually test learning by making use of “offline methods” such as forced-choice tasks. However, cognitive factors besides statistical learning possibly influence performance on those tasks. The goal of the present study was to improve a method for measuring word segmentation online. Click sounds were added to the speech stream, both between words and within words. Stronger expectations for the next syllable within words as opposed to between words were expected to result in slower detection of clicks within words, revealing sensitivity to word boundaries. Unexpectedly, we did not find evidence for learning in multiple groups of adults and child participants. We discuss possible methodological factors that could have influenced our results.


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How to Cite

Broedelet, I., Boersma, P., & Rispens, J. (2021). Measuring (online) word segmentation in adults and children. Dutch Journal of Applied Linguistics, 10.