Vowels and tones in Infant Directed Speech

hyperarticulation for both, but different developmental patterns

Nan Xu*, Denis Burnham, Christine Kitamura

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution


    A number of studies have shown that mothers hyperarticulate vowels in their Infant Directed Speech to their 6-month-old infants. Here we investigate the possibility that such hyperarticulation might also occur for lexical tone for mother-infant dyads in tone language environments, and possible changes in mothers' vowel and such tone hyperarticulation in IDS across the infant's first year. IDS from a total of 22 native Cantonese speaking mothers was recorded, 11 when their infants were 3-, 6-, and 9-month-old, and another 11 when their infants were 6-, 9-, and 12-monthold, and mothers asked to use nine target words in their speech; one for each of the three corner vowels HI, /a/ and /u/), and another six for each of the Cantonese tones on the vowel HI. Vowel hyperarticulation was investigated using first and second formant values, and tones using fundamental frequency onset and offset[1]. Preliminary results for 5 mothers presented here indicate that both vowel and tone hyperarticulation occur, but that while vowel hyperarticulation emerges around 6 months and increases from 6 to 9 to 12 month, tone hyperarticulation occurs only at 6 and 9 months. The results suggest that, as for vowels, tone space is hyperarticulated in IDS, but returns to Adult Directed Speech levels earlier for tones than vowels. Possible reasons for this are discussed, as are future studies with other tone languages with smaller tonal inventories.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationInternational Speech Communication Association - 8th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association, Interspeech 2007
    Place of PublicationAntwerp, Belgium
    Publisher8th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association
    Number of pages4
    ISBN (Print)9781605603162
    Publication statusPublished - 2007
    EventInterspeech Conference 2007 - Antwerp, Belgium
    Duration: 27 Aug 200731 Aug 2007


    ConferenceInterspeech Conference 2007


    • Infant directed speech
    • vowel hyperarticulation
    • tone

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Vowels and tones in Infant Directed Speech: hyperarticulation for both, but different developmental patterns'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this