Phonetic Society of Japan Awards

Every year since 2008, the Phonetic Society of Japan has presented an award for outstanding articles presenting novel ideas published in the Journal of the Phonetic Society of Japan that year. In addition, the Society has also presented an award each year for the best presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Phonetic Society of Japan by a graduate student or by a member of the society under 40 years of age as lead author. In 2012, the Society further established an “Academic Research Incentive Award” to encourage development in areas of phonetics and to recognize excellence in phonetics research.

Guidelines for Application for Academic Research Incentive Award
Outstanding Article Award
Michinao F. MATSUI “On the Input Information of the C/D model for Vowel Devoicing in Japanese” Volume 19, Number 2, Pages 55-69.
Reasons for the Award:
Based on experimental results of Japanese vowel devoicing, this paper argued for the optimum input formation as adhered to in the C/D model proposed by Fujimura (1992, 2007, 2015). By analyzing the articulatory and perceptual characteristics of devoiced vowels. the author suggests that devoiced vowels are fricative allophones of the target vowels, approximated as [s] for devoiced /u/ and [ɕ] for devoiced /i/.The author explains the devoicing processes based on the C/D model; the input information is given in the form of a syllable-based set of unary and underspecified phonological features as suggested by Fujimura, each syllable set includes an explicit representation of its “mora” structure, and utterances are represented by the list of the component syllable sets. These input characteristics make it possible to calculate the continuous physical gestures and quantitative phonetic information of speech sounds from the underspecified qualitative phonological information.
This paper challenged the historical issue of phonetics and explained in detail the vowel devoicing processes, by demonstrating how the continuous physical gestures and quantitative phonetic information of speech can be mapped from discrete and abstract phonological information.
Academic Research Incentive Award
(1) Title: “MyVoice: Rescuing voices of ALS patients”
Applicant: KAWAHARA Shigeto (Associate Professor, Keio Institute of Cultural and Linguistic Studies)
Recommender: KITAHARA Mafuyu (Professor, School of Law, Waseda University)
Recipients: (in alphabetic order)
ARAI Takayuki (Professor, Department of Information and Communication Sciences, Sophia University)
HOMMA Musashi (Occupational Therapist, Rehabilitation Department, Tokyo Metropolitan Neurological Hospital)
IMAZEKI Yūko (MyVoice Editorial Office, Rehabilitation Department, Tokyo Metropolitan Neurological Hospital)
KAWAHARA Shigeto (Associate Professor, Keio Institute of Cultural and Linguistic Studies)
MASUDA Hinako (Assistant Professor, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Waseda University)
MATSUI Michinao (Professor, Health Sciences Department, Osaka Health Science University)
MINAGAWA Yasuo (Associate Professor, Faculty of Letters, Keio University)
YOSHIMURA Takaki (Volunteer Programmer, Hearty Ladder)
Reasons for Award:
This project includes the development of “MyVoice”, a software application that makes it possible for persons with difficulty speaking to communicate verbally using vocal recordings made before their loss of speech, together with all the activities developed around this application. The project makes a great social contribution. For example, by recording basic Japanese mora segments before losing their voices, patients suffering from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) were able to converse with their families and caregivers in “their own voices” even after their loss.
The factors that make “MyVoice” so ground breaking are: the fact that it gives importance to one’s own voice, the fact that it is available free of charge, the fact that the burden of recording is held to the smallest possible level, the fact that preparation and use of the application are simple, and the fact that the utterance content can be customized. The application is accompanied by various software developments, implementation of recording activities, and educational activities.
The contributions of these activities to the field of phonetics can be summarized as follows: 1) Already the voices of more than 200 people have been saved, making it possible for them to convey messages in their own voices, thus supporting expanding voice communication among caregivers, including family. 2) The quality of voices is improved through the introduction of phonetic expertise via voice synthesis technology reading aloud from a mora base in Japanese. 3) Using near-infrared spectroscopy, the project has analyzed the importance of “speaking in one’s own voice” from a neurological approach. 4) By introducing MyVoice in courses in phonetics, the project has contributed to the future development of phonetics by conveying to the younger generation the “contributions of phonetics to society”.
The activities related to MyVoice have contributed greatly to the spread and development of phonetics and the project is an excellent match with the purposes of this award.

(2) Title “Development of teaching materials and textbooks and preservation and revitalization of the Ryukyuan dialect” Applicant: NAKAMOTO Ken (Professor, Faculty of Education and Graduate School of Education, University of The Ryukyus)
Recommender: ŌNO, Masao (Professor, Faculty of Education and Graduate School of Education, Iwate University)
Recipients: (in alphabetic order)
DANA Yūji (Supervisor, Prefectural Schools Education Division, Board of Education, Okinawa Prefecture)
KAJIKU Shin’ichi (Professor Emeritus, Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts)
NAKAHARA Jō (Adjunct Instructor, Faculty of Music, Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts)
NAKAMOTO Ken (Professor, Faculty of Education and Graduate School of Education, University of The Ryukyus)
NISHIOKA Satoshi (Professor, College of Global and Regional Culture, Okinawa International University)
NOHARA Mitsuyoshi (Professor Emeritus, Okinawa International University)
UCHIMA Chokujin (Professor Emeritus Chiba University [deceased 2014])
Reasons for award:
There are three reasons that this project is excellently suited for this award. 1) This textbook series was compiled for the youth of Okinawa Prefecture, who are speakers of Ryukyu dialects, which were designated in 2009 by UNESCO as endangered languages. The phonetic characteristics of Ryukyu dialects are distinctive even among the dialects of Japanese, and it is well known that the phonetic and phonological systems of dialects of the Ryukyus differ between neighboring districts even within the same small island. Phonetics is essential for dialect studies in general, but regarding dialects of the Ryukyus, it is no exaggeration to say neither research nor acquisition are possible without a grounding in phonetics. Within the Ryukyuan dialects, those of Kunigami (north part of Okinawa Island), Naha (south part of Okinawa Island), and Miyako have been designated by UNESCO as being “definitely endangered” and those of Yaeyama and Yonaguni as being “severely endangered”. The textbooks are being distributed, with consideration of dialect phonetics, to all elementary school, junior high school, and high school students in Okinawa prefecture with the aim of deepening understanding of the dialects of the people of Okinawa Prefecture and their continuation and preservation.
2) Because the textbooks have been compiled by excellent linguistic researchers who are speakers of Ryukyuan dialects and who have long years of experience in Ryukyuan dialect research, the explanatory content is well supported by descriptive linguistics. Also remarkable is the fact that the series is a collaborative work by both veteran researchers who are speakers of traditional dialects and by active researchers who are middle-aged non heritage speakers of traditional dialects. Take for example the handbook for high school students: The first chapter locates Ryukyuan among the dialects of Japan and provides a simple description of the divisions among the Ryukyuan dialects with an outline of phonetic (consonant and vowel) characteristics and a look at grammatical and lexical traits. The second chapter provides an overview of the Naha and Miyako (Sarahama) dialects and gives an explanation of the phonetics (vowels and consonants) and of sound contrasts, a description of the grammatical conjugations and of particles and auxiliary verbs, and introduces some lexical items. The third chapter describes the phonetic characteristics, grammar, and lexical traits of Uchinaa-yamatuguchi, widely used among the younger generation of Ryukyuan speakers, and give some explanation of this easily overlooked dialect. Uchinaa-yamatuguchi is a lingua franca that is newly spreading as the common language between different regions in Okinawa Prefecture and is marked phonetically. In addition, for students unfamiliar with phonetics, the handbook provides a kana chart specifically developed for writing Ryukyuan dialects, a kana system developed with solid phonological underpinnings.
3) With the texts comes a CD with actual recordings of dialects from south central Okinawa Island, north Okinawa Island, and Miyako. The recordings are from native-born speakers of each dialect. A dialect use situation is established for each recording, allowing comparison of the Naha dialect, the Kunigami dialect, and the Miyako dialect. The comparison is further eased by the provision of a phonetic transcription and a common (standard) Japanese translation. Although “dialects” constitutes a unit in course materials for Japanese language classes in Japanese schools, the question of how to approach them is a common concern. This aural CD is good news for classroom instructors. Many speakers of Uchinaa-yamatuguchi are even now self-conscious over the differences between their dialect and common Japanese. Education in one’s mother dialect contributes to the establishment of a regional identity.
Outstanding Article Award
HASHI Michiko, KODAMA Akina, MIURA Takao, DAIMON Shotaro, TAKAKURA Yuhki and HAYASHI Ryoko “Articulatory Variability in Word-final Japanese Moraic-nasals: An X-ray Microbeam Study” Volume 18, Number 2, Pages 95-105.
Reasons for the Award:
Word-final Japanese moraic-nasal /N/ is generally thought to be only uvular in terms of place of articulation. This research based on the x-ray microbeam Japanese data base reveals considerable articulatory variability in the production of word-final Japanese moraic-nasal /N/. One of the unique points of this research is that it analyzes the articulatory movement data of 17 speakers, clearly showing interspeaker articulatory differences and flexibility in producing /N/, something that cannot be seen from examining only one speaker.
This study is also important because it will help improve quantitative research and the practical uses of articulatory movement data bases. The paper is very clear and understandable, even for the reader who doesn’t know the field. It will have a big impact on all researchers: articulatory phoneticians as well as phoneticians and phonologists.
Outstanding Presentation Award (28th Annual Meeting of the Phonetic Society of Japan)
A Rongna (Co-presenters: SAKAI Naomi, MORI Koichi) “Comparison of the Frequency of Stutters’ Blocks between Shadowing and Repeating”
Reasons for the Award:
A rigorous study of how shadowing may contribute to stutters’ blocks, this study suggests the possibility that shadowing may be effective. The scope of the study is clear, as are the results. Responses to questions were also appropriate.
Outstanding Article Award
MORI Koichi, CAI Chang, OKAZAKI Shuntaro, OKADA Minae “Characteristic Patterns of Brain Activation in Adults with Developmental Stuttering in Reading Katakana Words Aloud” Volume 17, Number 2, Pages 29-44.
Reasons for the Award:
This article clarifies differences in brain activation between adults who stutter and adults who do not as measured by functional MRI when reading aloud words written in katakana. Words controlled for frequency and pseudo-words were presented visually and consistency with the DRC model, a model of brain function when reading, was considered. This is an article that crosses disciplinary boundaries and stimulates intellectual curiosity concerning the central mechanisms of Japanese phonetics and speech, an article that raises expectations for future developments for the highly interdisciplinary Phonetic Society of Japan.
Outstanding Presentation Award (27th Annual Meeting of the Phonetic Society of Japan)
Анатолий Вахромеев “Acoustic Characteristics and Features of Unvoiced Coronal Stops in the L2 Russian of Japanese Native Speakers”
Reasons for the Award:
This study examines experimentally how Russian native speakers and Japanese native-speaker Russian learners produce palatalized stops and affricates. Compared to Russian native speakers, who clearly differentiate the two, Japanese learners fail to differentiate them. The preprint was rich in content, the oral presentation was clear and easily understood, and responses to questions were also appropriate.
Academic Research Incentive Award
Title of Results: “Development and Dissemination of Online Japanese Accent Dictionary” (
Award Recipients: MINEMATSU Nobuaki, HIRANO Hiroko, NAKAGAWA Chieko, NAKAMURA Noriko, TAGAWA Yukinori, NAKAMURA Ibuki, HIROSE Keikichi, HASHIMOTO Hiroya, MIZUNO Tomoyuki, SUZUKI Masayuki
Reasons for the Award:
The reasons for presenting this award for this research can be summarized in the following five points: The development of the “Online Japanese Accent Dictionary” applies integrated knowledge of phonetics to education and is of great educational value. It is commended for tying basic research on accent to application. Since being made publicly available, the dictionary has been continually refined and improved based on feedback from teachers and students. It is to be commended for its continuing development. Praise is also due for productive dissemination activities, including suggestions for use in the classroom, encouragement for self-study by students, and sponsoring lectures and other activities to encourage its use. The dictionary project has worked hard at creating a user-friendly environment for use and is freely accessible to Japanese language learners, who can hear and confirm accent immediately. Can expect social spinoff effects. The dictionary has begun to become available in multiple languages and a large multiplier effect may be expected.
Outstanding Article Award
IGARASHI Yosuke, TAKUBO Yukinori, HAYASHI Yuka, PELLARD Thomas , KUBO Tomoyuki “The Ikema Dialect of Miyako Ryukyuan Has a Three-, not Two-, pattern Accent System” Volume 16, Number 1, Pages 134-148.
Reasons for the Award:
Considering the noun accent system of the Ikema dialect of Miyakoan from several viewpoints, this article shows that, contrary to the old analysis that held Ikema to have a two-pattern accent system regardless of the length of the word, it actually had a three-pattern system, bringing about developments not only in study of Miyakoan accent but also to southern Ryukyuan accent history as a whole. One of the points of originality on which this article should be commended is the discovery that the differences among the three accent patterns is not found in the environment of words uttered in isolation or with a particle attached, but is clearly manifested in the environment “Noun + 2-mora particle + Predicate (clause-final)”. This has not only clarified particular synchronic aspects of the Ikema dialect from a dialect typology viewpoint, but is also applicable to Japanese accent research as a whole by showing that even a single-word phenomenon may only be found realized in a clause. The article is also original in applying multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and cluster analysis to the height data derived from acoustic analysis to show the existence of the three-pattern system. The writing is clear and easy even for a reader from outside the field to understand, and the content is greatly stimulating not only to phoneticians but also to those working in phonology and syntax as well.
Outstanding Presentation Award (26th Annual Meeting of the Phonetic Society of Japan)
AOI Hayato “The Three-pattern Accent System of the Tarama Dialect of Miyakoan”
Reasons for the Award:
This study is a solid, on-site descriptive survey of the accent system of the Tarama dialect of southern Ryukyuan, a language with a diminishing number of speakers that is in danger of extinction. Building on the results of previous research, this study uses several particles as test items and attempts to give an even more detailed analysis. Introducing the perspective of foot structure and neutralization of accent patterns, the results show persuasively the existence of a three-pattern system. In addition, the presentation was very well prepared, straight-forward, and persuasive. It is also to be commended for being an easily comprehended presentation allowing listeners to hear actual dialect voices along with the acoustic analysis of the fundamental frequency curves.
SONU Mee (Co-presenters: ZHANG Yanlong, KATO Hiroaki, SAGISAKA Yoshinori) “Non-native Speakers’ Phonetic Evaluation of Japanese with Regard to Timing Control Features — The Case of Japanese Long and Short Phonemes”
Reasons for the Award:
This study presents an objective standard for evaluating the phonetic realization of Japanese long and short phonemes by non-native speakers of Japanese. Taking vowel onset as a marker of timing control, the study examines its correlation with subjective evaluations. The proposed method shows a higher correlation with subjective evaluations than the traditional mora length approach. The presentation of the research topic, the methodology, and the results was clear, and its presentation of a coherent set of results was noteworthy.
Academic Research Incentive Award
Title of Results: “Basic Materials: Voice Production and Vocal Cord Vibration — Fiberscopic Observations”
Award Recipients: HAYASHI Ryoko, SAKAI Yasuko, KANEDA Jyunpei
Reasons for the Award:
This proposal is to provide voice and video recordings of the vocal organs and vocal cord vibrations as basic materials for language and phonetics education and covers not only normal vocalization but also “abnormal” vocalization in order to better understand the mechanism of voice production. These are “results that are difficult to evaluate in the form of presentations and the like” and are judged to be appropriate to the purpose of this award. Combining both results and educational meaning, its contribution to phonetics is great and the results are interdisciplinary, spanning the areas of linguistics, foreign language education, and phoniatrics and logopedics. The authors plan to make the results available on the web and, if and when this is realized, it can be expected to have an even more major impact.
Outstanding Article Award
NITTA Tetsuo “On the Geminate Consonants of the Antoh Dialect in Fukui Prefecture” Volume 15, Number 1, Pages 6-15.
Reasons for the Award:
This study reports on an on-site investigation of geminate consonants, as in maffa ‘pillow’, ffoi ‘black’, ssoi ‘white’, and abba ‘oil’, found in the Antoh dialect spoken in the town of Mikuni in Fukui Prefecture and, referring to examples found in the literature on the dialect and actual examples found in other mainland Japan dialects, makes a persuasive proposal concerning the process by which these geminate consonants came about. The study indicates that the hypothesized process of geminate consonant formation could be a key to a re-examination of the accepted hypotheses concerning sound changes in the languages of the Ryukyus. Granted that they are easily perceived acoustically, it is still unfortunate that there is no graphic or acoustic proof that the vocalizations under consideration are in fact geminate consonants. However, the approach of supporting the reasonableness of the proposed process of sound change, taking into account the Japanese language as a whole, including Ryukyuan, and looking for a typology of sound change, is a desirable departure that draws a sharp line separating it from dialect phonetic studies heretofore, which tended to focus on the description of individual dialects. Also, while leaving room for other theories, the suggestions regarding Ryukyuan are commendable in that they have the possibility of triggering further discussion in the future.
MAEKAWA Kikuo “Phonetic Shape and Linguistic Function of Penultimate Non-Lexical Prominence” Volume 15, Number 1, Pages 16-28.
Reasons for the Award:
PNLP (Penultimate Non-lexical Prominence) is the phenomenon that OISHI Hatsutaro called “atodakagata ‘late-high’ prominence”, redefined as phrase-final intonation. The present study analyzed and considered the environments in which this phenomenon appears in the “Corpus of Spontaneous Japanese” with particular attention to the relation of its occurrence with its location within an utterance unit. The study states that there is a high possibility that a Japanese speaker will produce a PNLP when necessary to show either a utterance unit with a span of from several seconds to several tens of seconds or to signal that the end of the unit is near. The results presented show one characteristic of PNLP and, although there are many questions concerning PNLP remaining, as the author himself notes, the highly original study makes effective use of the special characteristics of a spoken utterance corpus and yields quite unexpected results that are hard to imagine based on introspection or analysis of sentences read aloud. The study is also instructive in many areas of data processing and verification.
Outstanding Presentation Award (25th Annual Meeting of the Phonetic Society of Japan)
YASU Keiichi (Co-presenters: ARAI Takayuki, KOBAYASHI Kei, SHINDO Mitsuko) “Cuetrading in the Identification of Unvoiced Word-initial Fricatives and Affricates — With Attention to Frication Duration and Bandwidth”
Reasons for the Award:
Aiming to clarify the differences in voice perception by young people and the elderly, this study conducted an experiment examining the identification of unvoiced fricatives and affricates and found that there were two parameters important as cues in their identification, “tendency for rising in the frication portion” and “rising time of the onset of frication + duration time of the steady-state portion of frication” and showed that there was a trading (trade-off) relation between these two parameters. The study also showed that, for elderly participants, the weight of the “tendency for rising in the frication portion” in this trading relation was low. Based on precise experimentation, the study developed clear findings of the characteristics of voice perception and clarified scientifically age-related changes in perception, responding to societal demands toward phonetic science.
Outstanding Article Award
MAEKAWA Kikuo “Weakening of Stop Articulation in Japanese Voiced Plosives” Volume 14, Number 2, Pages 1-15.
Reasons for the Award:
This study is a detailed and exhaustive examination of state of and factors contributing to weakening of the stop articulation of the voiced stops /b/, /d/, and /g/ in modern Japanese using the “Corpus of Spontaneous Japanese”. The study shows persuasively that the factor of being word-internal (being word-initial or not) previously suggested is not a factor, but that a large factor in the determination of whether or not the segment will be a stop is how much preparation time can be allocated to the articulation and will probably be cited frequently in the area of articulatory phonetics in the future. The study also notable for impressing on the reader the importance of using a corpus and for offering ways to use one effectively. It would be suitable as a model article for the Journal of the Phonetic Society of Japan.
Outstanding Presentation Award (24th Annual Meeting of the Phonetic Society of Japan)
TAKEUCHI Mayumi (Co-presenter: IGARASHI Yosuke) “An Anomalous Tone Phenomenon seen in the Neutral Tone in Chinese Mandarin — The Case of Personal Pronouns and of Sequential Neutral Tones”
Reasons for the Award:
This study analyzed a phenomenon that arises in Modern Chinese in which tone takes several syllables as a unit. TAKEUCHI and her co-author IGARASHI Yosuke had already shown the existence of this phenomenon in Modern Chinese in their presentation at the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Phonetic Society of Japan, but the analysis in that presentation looked only at question words and was limited to “second tone + neutral tone” and “third tone + neutral tone”. The present study continues from the previous research and reports that the same phenomenon is observed with personal pronouns and ordinary nouns and confirms that it also arises in “first tone + neutral tone” environments. The planning committee was impressed by the fact that this study points out the existence of such an interesting problem in the tones of Modern Chinese, which had been thought to have been investigated comparatively thoroughly, by the fact that it clearly demonstrated the reality of the phenomenon through solid experimental means, and by the fact that the problem raised may be open to future development and consider it appropriate for the Outstanding Presentation Award.
Outstanding Article Award
None selected
Outstanding Presentation Award (23th Annual Meeting of the Phonetic Society of Japan)
SONU Mee (Co-presenters: TAJIMA Keiichi, SAGISAKA Yoshinori) “Effects of Perceptual Training of Japanese Geminate Stops by Korean Learners of Japanese — Focusing on Production Generalizations Observed after Perceptual Training”
Reasons for the Award:
In order to find an effective perceptual training method for geminate stops, considered most difficult problem for Korean-speaking learners of Japanese, this study conducted perceptual training and verified the scope of the acquisition effect. Learners were divided into two groups. One group was given perceptual training using 15 minimal pairs with and without geminate consonants (30 words) and 15 minimal pairs (30 words) with and without long vowels read at varying speeds; the other group was given training with all words read at a fixed speed. The two groups were tested before and after training and were compared. No significant difference was found between the varying speeds group and the fixed speed group, but a tendency was observed for the varying speeds group to improve their long and short vowel perception. A clear difference was observed between learners who had received perceptual training and those who had not. Furthermore, looking at production, results obtained showed differences in consonant maintenance time between geminate and non-geminate consonants and in vowel maintenance time between long and short vowels. The study is important for discovering an approach to raising the consciousness of Korean learners of Japanese of special moras through training and drawing attention to them. The presentation and the responses to questions following were evaluated highly.
Outstanding Article Award
KORI Shiro “Accent Reduction and Restrictive Modification in Tokyo Japanese” Volume 12, Number 1, Pages 34-53
Reasons for the Award:
This study verifies, based on empirical data, under what determining factors the phenomenon of accent reduction and non-reduction in Tokyo Japanese arises. Whereas it has been held in the past that this accent reduction is restricted by a “syntactic structure like a branching structure”, this article argues a new approach that the realization of accent reduction is determined by “the presence or absence of semantic restriction”. In arguing for this position, the study re-examines previous “syntactic structure constraint” research and, after listing the problem areas to be considered, analyzes speech samples and perceptual experiments using synthesized speech to investigate the connection between “semantic restriction and accent reduction”. By conducting a systematically planned experiment comparing “syntactic structure constraints” and “semantic restrictions”, the study succeeds in building a counter argument based on empirical data. The study is highly reliable, being confirmed by both speech production and perceptual experiments. There may be room for further improvement in the experimental methods using synthesized speech and in the handling of statistical indicators, but the study is commendable for proposing a new approach to accent reduction, making falsifiable claims, and deepening the discussion with the results of systematically designed and conducted experiments. Just as there are cases that must be argued to be indeterminate between restrictive and nonrestrictive modification, it appears that there is still some vacillation on the determination of the presence or absence of semantic restrictions. On this point, it may be possible to mount an empirical counter argument from the position of syntactic structure constraints. However, as long as an approach to research that allows the scientific possibility of counter evidence, an approach embodied in this article, is maintained, more advanced developments in theoretical research can be expected from the refining process of argument and counter argument. This demonstrates future development possibilities in phonetic research in the truest sense. In addition, this research touches on the fact that sentence tone may differ in two environments even in a one-pattern region and is linked to the exposition of the universality of intonation.
Outstanding Presentation Award (22nd Annual Meeting of the Phonetic Society of Japan)
MINAGAWA Yasuyo (Co-presenters: Franck RAMUS, SATO Yutaka, MAZUKA Reiko) “Lateralization of Brain Reaction to Speech and Non-speech sounds in a four-month-old infant”
Reasons for the Award:
Using Near Infra-red Spectroscopy (NIRS) a technique that has become particularly advanced in Japan, this study investigated sound processing by a four-month-old infant under the five conditions of: native language, non-native language, emotional noises, monkey calls, and a control stimulus. It is well-known that the brain of a newborn has the inherent ability to adapt to any environment and that, as the infant develops, the brain fine-tunes to the environment to which it is born, but this study shows for the first time that a four-month-old has developed a mechanism adapted to its native language. On the other hand, the study suggests that, unlike an adult, who exhibits only a weak brain reaction to animal calls, an infant retains flexibility of the brain and responds to communication calls of different species. This study is significant in demonstrating new knowledge of speech development and evolution and of the biological foundation that underlies it. Both the presentation and the responses in the question period were commendable.