Article/Report  |   August 1999
The Integration of Laughter and Speech in Vocal Communication
Author Notes
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech
Article/Report   |   August 1999
The Integration of Laughter and Speech in Vocal Communication
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research August 1999, Vol.42, 880-894. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4204.880
History: Accepted 09 Mar 1999 , Received 30 Nov 1998
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research August 1999, Vol.42, 880-894. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4204.880
History: Accepted 09 Mar 1999 , Received 30 Nov 1998

Laughter in infant-directed speech was examined in 13 mother-infant pairs to investigate the possible co-occurrence of speech and laughter. Contrary to previous findings in adult-adult social interaction, all mothers produced speech simultaneously with laughter in up to 50% of laughs. In most of these speech-laughs the onset of laugh and speech was simultaneous. Laughter occurred on both function and content words and was more likely to occur on approximately 2 words and on utterances that were statements rather than questions or exclamations. Laughter and speech are different outcomes produced from a reorganization of the same vocal/anatomical parameters. A 3rd outcome is possible in the form of speech-laughs utilizing features from both laughter and speech. In speech-laughs, the duration of the vocalization was more likely to increase, and the changes in the utterance were likely to include 1 or more of the features of vowel elongation, syllabic pulsation, breathiness, and pitch change. These findings and individual variations in the resulting vocal output are discussed from a dynamic systems perspective. It is argued that neither speech nor laughter is dominant when both are combined, but that this is a more complex vocal outcome produced with idiosyncratic flexibility within stable temporal and physiological constraints.

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