Acoustic Evidence for the Development of Gestural Coordination in the Speech of 2-Year-Olds A Longitudinal Study Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 1993
Acoustic Evidence for the Development of Gestural Coordination in the Speech of 2-Year-Olds
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Elizabeth W. Goodell
    University of Connecticut Storrs Haskins Laboratories New Haven, CT
  • Michael Studdert-Kennedy
    University of Connecticut Storrs Haskins Laboratories New Haven, CT
  • Contact author: Elizabeth W. Goodell, PhD, Haskins Laboratories, 270 Crown Street, New Haven, CT 06511-6695.
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 1993
Acoustic Evidence for the Development of Gestural Coordination in the Speech of 2-Year-Olds
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 1993, Vol. 36, 707-727. doi:10.1044/jshr.3604.707
History: Received June 12, 1992 , Accepted January 29, 1993
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 1993, Vol. 36, 707-727. doi:10.1044/jshr.3604.707
History: Received June 12, 1992; Accepted January 29, 1993

Studies of child phonology have often assumed that young children first master a repertoire of phonemes and then build their lexicon by forming combinations of these abstract, contrastive units. However, evidence from children’s systematic errors suggests that children first build a repertoire of words as integral sequences of gestures and then gradually differentiate these sequences into their gestural and segmental components. Recently, experimental support for this position has been found in the acoustic records of the speech of 3-, 5-, and 7-year-old children, suggesting that even in older children some phonemes have not yet fully segregated as units of gestural organization and control. The present longitudinal study extends this work to younger children (22- and 32-month-olds). Results demonstrate clear differences in the duration and coordination of gestures between children and adults, and a clear shift toward the patterns of adult speakers during roughly the third year of life. Details of the child-adult differences and developmental changes vary from one aspect of an utterance to another.

Acknowledgments
The research reported here was part of a dissertation completed by the first author and submitted to the University of Connecticut in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the doctoral degree in psychology. Some of the research was presented in April 1990 at the International Conference on Infant Studies, Montreal, Canada, and in April 1991 at the Biennial Meeting of the Society of Research in Child Development, Seattle, Washington. We thank the children who gave us their utterances and the parents who lent us their children; Arthur Abramson, Cathi Best, Carol Fowler, Len Katz, and Richard McGowan for suggestions on data analysis and for comments on earlier drafts of the paper; James Flege, Megan Hodge, and an anonymous reviewer for instructive remarks. The work was supported in part by NICHD Grants HD-01994 and DC-00403 to Haskins Laboratories, 270 Crown St., New Haven, CT.
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