Children's Imitations of Intonation Contours Are Rising Tones More Difficult Than Falling Tones? Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 1998
Children's Imitations of Intonation Contours
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • David Snow
    University of Arizona Tucson
  • Currently affiliated with Purdue University
    Currently affiliated with Purdue University×
  • Contact author: David Snow, PhD, Department of Audiology and Speech Sciences, 1353 Heavilon Hall, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1353
    Contact author: David Snow, PhD, Department of Audiology and Speech Sciences, 1353 Heavilon Hall, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1353×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Telepractice & Computer-Based Approaches / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 1998
Children's Imitations of Intonation Contours
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1998, Vol. 41, 576-587. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4103.576
History: Received July 30, 1996 , Accepted August 29, 1997
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1998, Vol. 41, 576-587. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4103.576
History: Received July 30, 1996; Accepted August 29, 1997

Perceptual evidence suggests that young children do not imitate adult-modeled intonation patterns with a rising pitch contour (rising tones) as well as those with a falling pitch contour (falling tones). To investigate the acoustic basis of this uneven imitation pattern, 10 4-year-old children were asked to imitate short sentences with falling and rising tones in 4 sentence contexts called "intonation groups." The results indicated that the children used more falling tones than adults in most intonation groups. When the children matched the adult-modeled contour direction (falling or rising), the children's speed of pitch change was comparable to that of adults in the falling tones of final intonation groups and in the rising tones of nonfinal groups, but was slower than that of adults in the complementary environments. In a manner consistent with previously reported perceptual data, the instrumental findings indicate that rising tones may be more difficult for 4-year-old children to produce than falling tones. The results additionally suggest that children's intonation is sensitive not only to the direction of tonal contours but also to their position in sentence-final versus nonfinal intonation groups.

Acknowledgments
This research was funded in part by U.S. Department of Education Grant Nos. H029D90108 and H023C40118-95. I would like to thank Eugene Buder for many helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper. Special thanks also to Nadine Caffall for assistance with the data collection activities and Kresent Gurtler for his contributions to the acoustic analysis and reliability portions of the study.
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