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

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

The Development of Phoneme Categorisation in Children Aged 6 to 12

Valerie Hazan, Sarah Barrett

Department of Phonetics & Linguistics, University College London, UK

The aim of this study was to assess the development of labelling ability across a range of phonemic contrasts acquired at different ages: /g/-/k/, /d/-/g/, /s/-/z/ and /s/-/ʃ/. Six-stimulus synthetic continua were created in which acoustic cues signalling these contrasts were manipulated singly or in combination. Stimuli were presented to 84 normally-hearing children aged between 6;0 and 12;6 yrs and thirteen adult controls in the form of two-alternative forced-choice identification tests using an adaptive procedure. The gradients of the identification functions increased significantly in steepness between the ages of 6 and 12 but, by 12 years old, children were still not labelling the phonemic contrasts as consistently as adults. By the age of six, there was no evidence of a greater reliance on dynamic cues such as formant transitions.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Hazan, Valerie / Barrett, Sarah (1999): "The development of phoneme categorisation in children aged 6 to 12", In ICPhS-14, 2493-2496.