The Acquisition of Unrounded Vowels in English This study investigated developmental patterns of acquisition of the unrounded American English vowels /i, i, e, ε, æ, α/ by following 6 normally developing children from 22 to 30 months of age. The subjects were examined at approximately 22, 26, and 30 months of age. Results showed that, in general, ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 1992
The Acquisition of Unrounded Vowels in English
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Kiyoshi Otomo
    University of Washington, Seattle
  • Carol Stoel-Gammon
    University of Washington, Seattle
Article Information
Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 1992
The Acquisition of Unrounded Vowels in English
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1992, Vol. 35, 604-616. doi:10.1044/jshr.3503.604
History: Received February 6, 1991 , Accepted August 23, 1991
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1992, Vol. 35, 604-616. doi:10.1044/jshr.3503.604
History: Received February 6, 1991; Accepted August 23, 1991

This study investigated developmental patterns of acquisition of the unrounded American English vowels /i, i, e, ε, æ, α/ by following 6 normally developing children from 22 to 30 months of age. The subjects were examined at approximately 22, 26, and 30 months of age. Results showed that, in general, /1/ and /α/ were mastered early and /i/ and /ε/ were least accurate throughout the period of the study. Upon inspection of errors, the following three classes of production errors were identified (a) intertrial production variability, (b) context-sensitive substitutions, and (c) context-free systematic substitution patterns, or articulatory processes. A decrease in production variability and in the occurrence of articulatory processes with age generally coincided with a gradual mprovement in accuracy of production. However, substitutions of lower vowels for /i/ were persistent, and the pattern was observed even at 30 months of age. Individual variation was also evident in the production accuracy, the substitution patterns, and the manner of articulatory improvement

Acknowledgments
This study was based in part on a doctoral dissertation submitted to the University of Washington, Seattle, by Kiyoshi Otomo. Portions of the study were presented at the 1988 Child Phonology Conference, University of Illinois, Urbana–Champaign, May 1988, and at the Annual Convention of the American Speech–Language–Hearing Association, Washington, DC, November 1988. The authors would like to thank Jim Grossman, Sandy Duggan, Marilyn James, and Lisa Wiener for phonetic transcriptions. The 1986 Arlene Matkin Student Research Award granted by the American Speech–Language–Hearing Foundation provided funds necessary to complete the study. Preparation of this paper was supported in part by a grant from the National Institutes of Health: NIDCD P01 DC00520.
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