F0 contours produced by Swedish and American 24-month-olds: implications for the acquisition of tonal word accents  

Olle Engstrand & Germund Kadin

In the Proceedings of Fonetik 2004, the XVII Swedish Phonetics Conference, Stockholm, May 26-28, 2004: 68-71.


Previous studies have suggested that most Swedish 17-18-month-olds do not have a productive command of the grave vs. acute tonal word accent contrast. The present paper raises the question whether the accent contrast is more firmly established in Swedish 24-monthers. Auditory observations on 6 Swedish and 6 American English children suggest that a majority of Swedish disyllabic word productions have the two-peaked grave accent, and that accents are usually assigned to words according to the adult norm. Also, the Swedish children produced grave and acute words with F0 contours synchronized with the segmental tier as expected. Both the grave and the acute contours deviated markedly from those produced by the American English control subjects; in particular, the Swedish contours were more dynamic and reached more extreme values than the American English contours. This is taken to reflect the need to preserve a sufficient contrast between the phonologically distinct word accents. It is tentatively concluded that acquisition of the Swedish word accent contrast typically takes place during the 18-24 months age interval.

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