14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999

Physiological Constraints on Prosody at the Onset of Word Use?

Rory A. DePaolis (1), Marilyn May Vihman (2), Satsuki Nakai (2), Lucy Evans (2), Sari Kunnari (3)

(1) Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, James Madison University, USA
(2) School of Psychology, University of Wales, Bangor, UK
(3) Department of Finnish, Saami and logopedics, University of Oulu, Finland

An investigation of word accent in infant vocalizations was undertaken on the basis of data from ten American-, five each of French- and Finnish-, and four Welsh-learning infants at the onset of word use (10-13 months). The 483 utterances (words and babble) were quantified acoustically by indices of duration, amplitude and fundamental frequency (F0). Acoustic measurements suggest voluntary control of F0 which is moderately correlated with amplitude. Infants learning languages that include iambic models (English and French) exaggerate final syllable lengthening (FSL) while those with a more consistent model of duration (Welsh and Finnish) show less variability. Perceptual judgements show no preference for any model of prominence, suggesting that infants approach the production of prosodic patterns in highly individual ways. Finally, it appears that the complexity of the prosodic system the infant is learning may be a stronger determinant of the patterns the infants produce than physiological constraints.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  DePaolis, Rory A. / Vihman, Marilyn May / Nakai, Satsuki / Evans, Lucy / Kunnari, Sari (1999): "Physiological constraints on prosody at the onset of word use?", In ICPhS-14, 1189-1191.