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

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


Intrasyllabic Patterns in Babbling and Early Speech

Barbara L. Davis (1), Peter F. MacNeilage (2), Christine Matyear (1)

(1) Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders; (2) Department of Psychology;
The University of Texas at Austin, TX, USA

Three patterns of intrasyllabic co-occurrence, reflecting putatively fundamental infant production constraints, have been found in phonetic analyses of babbling and first words. They are labial-central (LC), coronal-front (CF), and dorsal-back vowel (DB) intrasyllabic patterns. Evidence of these patterns was sought in three databases; targets for words attempted by eight English learning infants, lexical items on the CDI, a parent report instrument of words frequently produced by infants, and a dictionary count of English words. The predicted trends were present in the two infant databases, but not at significant levels. The lingual trends (CF and DB) were strongly present in the dictionary database and have been found in other languages as well. These findings suggest that the infant phonetic trends above are not based on imitation, as they are not strongly present in the targets. The lingual trends in the dictionary database may reflect extremely fundamental production propensities present in languages.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Davis, Barbara L. / MacNeilage, Peter F. / Matyear, Christine (1999): "Intrasyllabic patterns in babbling and early speech", In ICPhS-14, 2481-2484.