Vowel Duration in Mothers' Speech to Young Children The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether content words are selectively highlighted through increased vowel duration in mothers' speech to young children. Fifteen mother-child dyads served as subjects. All children (ages 1:6x2013;2:4) were female and had a mean length of utterance between 1.00 and 1.40 morphemes. Each mother ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 1992
Vowel Duration in Mothers' Speech to Young Children
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Lori A. Swanson
    Purdue University West Lafayette, IN
  • Laurence B. Leonard
    Purdue University West Lafayette, IN
  • Jack Gandour
    Purdue University West Lafayette, IN
Article Information
Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 1992
Vowel Duration in Mothers' Speech to Young Children
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1992, Vol. 35, 617-625. doi:10.1044/jshr.3503.617
History: Received March 1, 1991 , Accepted September 17, 1991
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1992, Vol. 35, 617-625. doi:10.1044/jshr.3503.617
History: Received March 1, 1991; Accepted September 17, 1991

The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether content words are selectively highlighted through increased vowel duration in mothers' speech to young children. Fifteen mother-child dyads served as subjects. All children (ages 1:6x2013;2:4) were female and had a mean length of utterance between 1.00 and 1.40 morphemes. Each mother was asked to read five experimental stories aloud to her child and to an adult. The vowel durations of both content words and function words in these stories were examined. Vowels in content wordsx2014;but not function wordsx2014;were significantly longer in child-directed than in adult-directed speech. It is suggested that this characteristic of child-directed speech might heighten young children's attention to content words and contribute to the exclusion of function words during the early stages of English language development.

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