Durational patterns produced by Swedish and American 18- and 24-month-olds: implications for the acquisition of the quantity contrast  

Bonsdroff, L. & Engstrand, O.

In the Proceedings of Fonetik 2005, Göteborg, 25-27 May 2005: 59-62.

Abstract

On the basis of previous, small-scale analyses, it was hypothesized that most Swedish children develop an adult-like command of quantity-related durational patterns between 18 and 24 months of age. In this study, VC structures produced in stressed position by several Swedish 18- and 24-month-olds were analyzed for durational correlates of the complementary V:C and VC: quantity patterns. Durations were typically reminiscent of the adult norm suggesting that, at 18 months of age, Swedish children have acquired a basic command of the durational correlates of the quantity contrast. In consequence, quantity development must start well ahead of that age. It was also found that voicing had a considerable, adult-like effect on the duration of postvocalic consonants at both ages. This effect was smaller in the American controls, again indicating the presence of a languagespecific phonetic pattern. The effect of voicing on preconsonantal vowel duration was relatively moderate. The effect was also present in the American 24-monthers, but less substantially than commonly observed in adults' speech. No significant voicing-induced vowel lengthening effect was found in the American 18-monthers.

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