Vowel Acoustic Space Development in Children: A Synthesis of Acoustic and Anatomic Data Purpose: This article integrates published acoustic data on the development of vowel production. Age specific data on formant frequencies are considered in the light of information on the development of the vocal tract (VT) to create an anatomic–acoustic description of the maturation of the vowel acoustic space for English.Method: ... Article/Report
Article/Report  |   December 2007
Vowel Acoustic Space Development in Children: A Synthesis of Acoustic and Anatomic Data
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Houri K. Vorperian
    University of Wisconsin—Madison
  • Ray D. Kent
    University of Wisconsin—Madison
  • Contact author: Houri K. Vorperian, 481 Waisman Center, 1500 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53705. E-mail: vorperian@waisman.wisc.edu.
  • © 2007 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech
Article/Report   |   December 2007
Vowel Acoustic Space Development in Children: A Synthesis of Acoustic and Anatomic Data
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2007, Vol. 50, 1510-1545. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/104)
History: Received September 12, 2006 , Accepted April 4, 2007
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2007, Vol. 50, 1510-1545. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/104)
History: Received September 12, 2006; Accepted April 4, 2007
Web of Science® Times Cited: 51

Purpose: This article integrates published acoustic data on the development of vowel production. Age specific data on formant frequencies are considered in the light of information on the development of the vocal tract (VT) to create an anatomic–acoustic description of the maturation of the vowel acoustic space for English.

Method: Literature searches identified 14 studies reporting data on vowel formant frequencies. Data on corner vowels are summarized graphically to show age- and sex- related changes in the area and shape of the traditional vowel quadrilateral.

Conclusions: Vowel development is expressed as follows: (a) establishment of a language-appropriate acoustic representation (e.g., F1–F2 quadrilateral or F1–F2–F3 space), (b) gradual reduction in formant frequencies and F1–F2 area with age, (c) reduction in formant-frequency variability, (d) emergence of male–female differences in formant frequency by age 4 years with more apparent differences by 8 years, (e) jumps in formant frequency at ages corresponding to growth spurts of the VT, and (f) a decline of f0 after age 1 year, with the decline being more rapid during early childhood and adolescence. Questions remain about optimal procedures for VT normalization and the exact relationship between VT growth and formant frequencies. Comments are included on nasalization and vocal fundamental frequency as they relate to the development of vowel production.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported, in part, by Research Grants R03 DC4362 (Anatomic Development of the Vocal Tract: MRI Procedures), R01 DC6282 (MRI and CT Studies of the Developing Vocal Tract), and R01 DC00319 (Intelligibility Studies of Dysarthria) from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. This work was also supported by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Core Grant P-30 HD03352, awarded to the Waisman Center. We thank Ralph Ohde for the age and vowel specific data from the Perry, Ohde, and Ashmead (2001)  publication. We also thank Mary Lindstrom for preparation of Figures 27 and Hetal Pathak, Mike Schimek, Andrea Kettler, Allison Carolan, and Reid Durtschi for assistance with the preparation of the remaining figures. We give special thanks to Hetal Pathak and Andrea Kettler for their assistance with preparation of the summary acoustic spreadsheet from the various articles.
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