15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003


Universal Intrasyllabic Patterns in Early Acquisition

Barbara L. Davis, Peter F. MacNeilage

University of Texas at Austin, USA

Universal phonetic patterns can be observed in babbling and early speech when infants produce rhythmic vocalizations that show structural similarities as well as differences from mature speakers. The Frame/Content perspective (McNeilage & Davis, 1990) illuminates underlying principles motivating intrasyllabic, consonant and vowel patterns observed in these early speech-like vocal sequences. According to this perspective, lack of articulator movements independent of the mandible in vocal sequences result in intrasyllabic co-occurrences of labial consonants with central vowels, coronal consonants with front vowels, and dorsal consonants with back vowels. As complexity emerges in consonant clusters, vocal sequences retain regularities of patterning predicted by the Frame/Content perspective. In addition, these patterns appear to be resilient in the face of auditory perceptual deficit. Although syllable use is low in infants with hearing impairment, when syllables are produced they follow the patterns found in hearing infants and predicted by the Frame/Content perspective. (143)

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Davis, Barbara L. / MacNeilage, Peter F. (2003): "Universal intrasyllabic patterns in early acquisition", In ICPhS-15, 379-382.