Phrase-Final Syllable Lengthening and Intonation in Early Child Speech This research describes the development of phrase-final prosodic patterns in nine English-speaking children. The intonation feature of interest is the fall in the fundamental frequency of the voice that occurs in the final syllables of statements. The corresponding feature of speech timing is phrase-final lengthening. To test opposing theories about ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 1994
Phrase-Final Syllable Lengthening and Intonation in Early Child Speech
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • David Snow
    University of Washington, Seattle
  • Contact author: David P. Snow, PhD, Child Language Laboratory, Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721.
  • Currently affiliated with the Child Language Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson.
    Currently affiliated with the Child Language Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson.×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 1994
Phrase-Final Syllable Lengthening and Intonation in Early Child Speech
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 1994, Vol. 37, 831-840. doi:10.1044/jshr.3704.831
History: Received February 2, 1993 , Accepted January 24, 1994
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 1994, Vol. 37, 831-840. doi:10.1044/jshr.3704.831
History: Received February 2, 1993; Accepted January 24, 1994

This research describes the development of phrase-final prosodic patterns in nine English-speaking children. The intonation feature of interest is the fall in the fundamental frequency of the voice that occurs in the final syllables of statements. The corresponding feature of speech timing is phrase-final lengthening. To test opposing theories about the relationship between intonation and syllable timing, these boundary features were compared in a longitudinal study of the children’s speech development between the mean ages of 16 and 25 months. The results suggest that young children acquire the skills that control intonation earlier than final syllable timing skills. The findings support the hypothesis that final lengthening in the speech of 2-year-olds is a learned prosodic feature that cannot be accounted for as a secondary effect of inherent speech production constraints. In addition, a consistent pattern of final lengthening began to emerge when the children were making the transition to combinatorial speech, suggesting a developmental relationship between the child’s learning of speech timing and syntax.

Acknowledgments
This research is based on the author’s doctoral dissertation study at the University of Washington. The work was supported in part by a grant from the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (Grant No. DC00520) awarded to Carol Stoel-Gammon, and by an Institutional National Research Service Award, NIH Grant No. 1 T32 DC00033-01, “Research Training in Speech and Hearing Sciences” (University of Washington, Fred D. Minifie, Project Director), supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Portions of this research were reported at the 13th Annual Child Phonology Conference, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1992.1 would especially like to thank Carol Stoel-Gammon for her assistance throughout this study. I am also indebted to Philip Dale, Linda Swisher, and the reviewers of this journal for valuable suggestions. Thanks to Suzanne Quigley and Patrick Feeney for their help with the audiometric screenings. Special thanks also to Margaret Kehoe for her contributions to the reliability portion of the study.
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