Duration of Function-Word Vowels in Mothers' Speech to Young Children The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether function words are lengthened in certain phrase positions in mother-to-child speech. Twenty-two mother-child dyads served as subjects. All children (ages 1:5 to 2:2) had a mean length of utterance between 1.0 and 1.5 morphemes. Each mother was asked to read five ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 1994
Duration of Function-Word Vowels in Mothers' Speech to Young Children
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Lori A. Swanson
    Department of Communicative Disorders, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
  • Laurence B. Leonard
    Department of Audiology and Speech Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • Contact author: Lori A. Swanson, Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology, The University of Tennessee, 457 South Stadium Hall, Knoxville, TN 37996-0740.
  • Currently affiliated with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
    Currently affiliated with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 1994
Duration of Function-Word Vowels in Mothers' Speech to Young Children
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1994, Vol. 37, 1394-1405. doi:10.1044/jshr.3706.1394
History: Received August 17, 1993 , Accepted May 24, 1994
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1994, Vol. 37, 1394-1405. doi:10.1044/jshr.3706.1394
History: Received August 17, 1993; Accepted May 24, 1994

The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether function words are lengthened in certain phrase positions in mother-to-child speech. Twenty-two mother-child dyads served as subjects. All children (ages 1:5 to 2:2) had a mean length of utterance between 1.0 and 1.5 morphemes. Each mother was asked to read five experimental stories aloud to her child and to an adult. The durations of seven function-word vowels in these stories were examined. Each word appeared in three phrase positions (phrase-initial, phrase-medial, and two types of phrase-final). Function-word vowels in initial and medial positions did not differ significantly in adult-directed and child-directed speech. In contrast, function-word vowels in final position were significantly longer in mothers' speech to their children.

Acknowledgments
The authors wish to thank the mother-child dyads who participated in this study. We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Donna Diehl during the creation of the experimental stories; the assistance of Karen Armstrong, Dana Belaire, Anna Mallory, and Bryan Waite during data collection and reduction; and the conscientious efforts of Jennifer Cater during the measurement of reliability tokens. Appreciation is also extended to two anonymous reviewers and Shelley L. Velleman for their insightful comments. This project was funded in part by a grant from the Research Grants Committee, The University of Alabama.
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