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

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

Children's Perception of Direct and Indirect Reported Speech

Nigel Hewlett (1), Cherry Kelsey (2), Robin Lickley (1)

(1) Queen Margaret University College, UK
(2) University of Edinburgh, UK

This study investigated the abilities of adults and children to distinguish direct reported speech from indirect reported speech in sentences read aloud by a native English speaker. The adults were highly successful, the older children less so and the younger children were relatively unsuccessful. Indirect reported speech appeared to be the default category for the children. Potential prosodic cues were identified and measured from waveforms and pitch contours of the stimulus sentences.
   Statistical analysis was applied with a view to ascertaining which (combination of) cues best predicted the listener responses. The results suggest that pitch movement and duration both provided important cues to distinguishing the sentence types. The analysis also revealed a learning effect by all groups.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Hewlett, Nigel / Kelsey, Cherry / Lickley, Robin (2003): "Children's perception of direct and indirect reported speech", In ICPhS-15, 1313-1316.