The Development of Distinct Speaking Styles in Preschool Children Purpose: To examine when and how socially conditioned distinct speaking styles emerge in typically developing preschool children’s speech.Method: Thirty preschool children, ages 3, 4, and 5 years old, produced target monosyllabic words with monophthongal vowels in different social–functional contexts designed to elicit clear and casual speaking styles. Thirty ... Article
Article  |   December 2009
The Development of Distinct Speaking Styles in Preschool Children
 
Author Notes
  • Contact author: Melissa A. Redford, Department of Linguistics, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-1290. E-mail: redford@uoregon.edu.
  • © 2009 American Speech-Language-Hearing AssociationAmerican Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language
Article   |   December 2009
The Development of Distinct Speaking Styles in Preschool Children
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2009, Vol. 52, 1434-1448. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/07-0223)
History: Received September 21, 2007 , Revised April 15, 2008 , Accepted March 21, 2009
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2009, Vol. 52, 1434-1448. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/07-0223)
History: Received September 21, 2007; Revised April 15, 2008; Accepted March 21, 2009
Web of Science® Times Cited: 2

Purpose: To examine when and how socially conditioned distinct speaking styles emerge in typically developing preschool children’s speech.

Method: Thirty preschool children, ages 3, 4, and 5 years old, produced target monosyllabic words with monophthongal vowels in different social–functional contexts designed to elicit clear and casual speaking styles. Thirty adult listeners were used to assess whether and at what age style differences were perceptible. Children’s speech was acoustically analyzed to evaluate how style-dependent differences were produced.

Results: The ratings indicated that listeners could not discern style differences in 3-year-olds' speech but could hear distinct styles in 4-year-olds' and especially in 5-year-olds' speech. The acoustic measurements were consistent with these results: Style-dependent differences in 4- and 5-year-olds' words included shorter vowel durations and lower fundamental frequency in clear compared with casual speech words. Five-year-olds' clear speech words also had more final stop releases and initial sibilants with higher spectral energy than did their casual speech words. Formant frequency measures showed no style-dependent differences in vowel production at any age nor any differences in initial stop voice onset times.

Conclusion: Overall, the findings suggest that distinct styles develop slowly and that early style-dependent differences in children’s speech are unlike those observed in adult clear and casual speech. Children may not develop adultlike styles until they have acquired expert articulatory control and the ability to highlight the internal structure of an articulatory plan for a listener.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported, in part, by a Summer Research Award from The University of Oregon. We thank Tatiana Furrow, Jennifer Peddicord, and Gennifer Fink for help with participant recruitment and data collection. Gennifer Fink also contributed as the second rater. We are grateful to Robin High (formerly the University of Oregon statistical consultant and programmer) for developing sophisticated statistical models to accommodate the complex design of this study, Susan Guion for providing us with expert advice on the rating task and some aspects of the acoustic measures, Lou Moses for letting us use his lab to run subjects, and the University of Oregon Psychology Department for access to the baby and child database for participant recruitment.
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