Three-year-olds' production of Australian English phonemic vowel length as a function of prosodic context

Ivan Yuen*, Felicity Cox, Katherine Demuth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Durational contrasts are used not only to signal phrasal boundaries and focused constituents, but also to make phonemic distinctions. Boundary and focus effects can therefore interact with phonemic length contrasts, presenting a challenge for learners. Boundary effects are most clearly seen in the syllable rhyme, where the nucleus and coda are longer in utterance-final compared to utterance-medial position, the magnitude of lengthening diminishing leftward from the end of the word. In the case of focus, where the nucleus and coda are also lengthened, the magnitude of lengthening diminishes rightwards toward the end of the word. The goal of this paper was therefore to compare productions of the phonemic vowel length contrast /ɐː/ vs /ɐ/ in adults and 3-yr-old children learning Australian English in the face of competing demands from boundary and focus lengthening. The results showed that the children maintain the /ɐː/ vs /ɐ/ contrast across prosodic contexts. They are also able to implement an adult-like pattern of boundary-related lengthening, but are still developing focus-related lengthening. The findings suggest that these 3-yr-olds have good command of the phonemic vowel length contrast, but are still fine-tuning language-specific aspects of temporal organization (i.e., the vowel-coda trading relationship) within the rhyme.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1469-1479
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Volume135
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2014 Acoustical Society of America. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the Acoustical Society of America. The following article appeared in Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Vol. 135, Issue 3, pp. 1469-1479, and may be found at http://doi.org/10.1121/1.4864292.

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