Acquisition of Vowel Contrasts in Dutch The aim of this research is to disentangle the contributions of anatomical development of the vocal tract and articulatory learning to the acquisition of vowel contrasts. Four groups of subjects were selected: normal 2-year-olds, normal 4-year-olds, 4-year-olds with a delay in phonological development of approximately 2 years, and adults. Elicited ... Research Article
Research Article  |   February 01, 1994
Acquisition of Vowel Contrasts in Dutch
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Chris J. Clement
    University of Amsterdam The Netherlands
  • Frank Wijnen
    University of Utrecht and University of Groningen The Netherlands
  • Contact: Chris J. Clement, PhD, University of Amsterdam, Institute of Phonetic Sciences, Herengracht 338, 1016 CG Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 01, 1994
Acquisition of Vowel Contrasts in Dutch
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 1994, Vol. 37, 83-89. doi:10.1044/jshr.3701.83
History: Received May 5, 1993 , Accepted September 28, 1993
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 1994, Vol. 37, 83-89. doi:10.1044/jshr.3701.83
History: Received May 5, 1993; Accepted September 28, 1993

The aim of this research is to disentangle the contributions of anatomical development of the vocal tract and articulatory learning to the acquisition of vowel contrasts. Four groups of subjects were selected: normal 2-year-olds, normal 4-year-olds, 4-year-olds with a delay in phonological development of approximately 2 years, and adults. Elicited renditions of three Dutch vowels, /u/, /a/, and /a/ were acoustically analysed. The F1 and F2 values of the two vowels constituting a large contrast (/a/ versus /u/) were significantly different in all subject groups. On the other hand, the extent to which the spectra of /a/ and /a/ differed appeared to be affected by age. The 2-year-olds, in contrast to the normal 4-year-olds and adults, produced nondistinctive F2s for these two vowels. The results from the phonologically delayed 4-year-olds paralleled those of the 2-year-olds, which suggests that the acquisition of subtle vowel contrasts is primarily dependent on articulatory learning, rather than the purported anatomical development of the vocal tract.

Acknowledgments
We thank Bert Schouten for his help in setting up this study and Sieb Nooteboom for his critical and stimulating interest during all phases of the project. Emma van Ophem kindly agreed to perform second-opinion judgments of formant frequencies. Frank Wijnen was supported by a grant from the PSYCHON foundation, which is funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).
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