Hypo-articulation of the four-way voicing contrast in Nepali infant-directed speech

Titia Benders*, Sujal Pokharel, Katherine Demuth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Hyper-articulation of vowel and consonant contrasts is often reported in infant-directed speech (IDS), but is not universal cross-linguistically, and may be a side-effect of speaking rate. This study investigated the voicing characteristics of the four-way oral stop voicing contrast in Nepali IDS. Both lead and lag time of word-onset/ɡ, ɡʱ, k, kʱ/were measured in the IDS and adult-directed speech (ADS) of 16 Nepali-speaking mothers. The lower prevalence of contrastive prevoicing and shorter lead times in IDS compared to ADS indicate hypo-articulated voicing contrasts. Shorter overall lag times in IDS suggest that stop consonants are less salient in IDS compared to ADS. These results cannot be explained as a side-effect of speaking rate, but rather suggest an increased salience for vowels compared to consonants within the IDS syllable. The implications for the acquisition of voicing contrasts are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-254
Number of pages23
JournalLanguage Learning and Development
Issue number3
Early online date27 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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