Quantity in infant-directed speech  

Ulla Sundberg

Proceedings of the XIVth International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (1999): 2189 - 2192
(San Francisco, USA)  


This paper reports on an investigation of how the phonological rule of the complementary relationship between vowel and consonant duration is manifested in Swedish infant-directed speech (IDS), as compared to adult-directed speech (ADS). Cross-linguistic investigations indicate that vowels tend to be prolonged in speech directed to infants. In contrast, there are signs that consonants may be shortened in this speech style. How then, would these tendencies affect the phonological rule of V:C and VC: sequences in IDS? Analysis of vowel and consonant durations in disyllabic content words from six Swedish mothers' IDS and ADS revealed that the VC proportionality is preserved in the IDS. The results suggest that important information of the linguistic structure of the ambient language is maintained. The results are discussed from an infant developmental perspective in a model of IDS transforms.

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