The development of acoustic cues to coda contrasts in young children learning American English

Jae Yung Song*, Katherine Demuth, Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Research on children's speech perception and production suggests that consonant voicing and place contrasts may be acquired early in life, at least in word-onset position. However, little is known about the development of the acoustic correlates of later-acquired, word-final coda contrasts. This is of particular interest in languages like English where many grammatical morphemes are realized as codas. This study therefore examined how various non-spectral acoustic cues vary as a function of stop coda voicing (voiced vs. voiceless) and place (alveolar vs. velar) in the spontaneous speech of 6 American-English-speaking mother-child dyads. The results indicate that children as young as 1;6 exhibited many adult-like acoustic cues to voicing and place contrasts, including longer vowels and more frequent use of voice bar with voiced codas, and a greater number of bursts and longer post-release noise for velar codas. However, 1;6-year-olds overall exhibited longer durations and more frequent occurrence of these cues compared to mothers, with decreasing values by 2;6. Thus, English-speaking 1;6-year-olds already exhibit adult-like use of some of the cues to coda voicing and place, though implementation is not yet fully adult-like. Physiological and contextual correlates of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3036-3050
Number of pages15
JournalThe Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Volume131
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012

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