Quantity and duration in early speech: preliminary observations on three Swedish children  

Olle Engstrand & Lina Bonsdroff

In the Proceedings of Fonetik 2004, the XVII Swedish Phonetics Conference, Stockholm, May 26-28, 2004: 64-67.


The paper presents preliminary data relevant to Swedish children’s acquisition of the quantity contrast. Since Swedish children are heavily exposed to lexically conditioned quantity patterns, and since the contrast involves some fairly robust phonetic correlates, distinct ambient language influences on early vocalizations can be expected. To date, however, such effects have been observed only informally. In the present study, durational measurements were made on the relevant vowels and consonants in disyllabic words produced by three Swedish children aged 30 (two children) and 24 months (one child), respectively. The data suggested adult-like durational patterns in all three children irrespective of age. So far, then, the experimental evidence has encouraged the hypothesis that the quantity contrast may be in place by 24 months of age or even earlier.

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