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 journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


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
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


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