Developmental Trajectory for Production of Prosody: Lexical Stress Contrastivity in Children Ages 3 to 7 Years and in Adults PurposeAccurate production of lexical stress within English polysyllabic words is critical for intelligibility and is affected in many speech-language disorders. However, models of speech production remain underspecified with regard to lexical stress. In this study, the authors report a large-scale acoustic investigation of lexical stress production in typically developing Australian ... Article
Article  |   December 2012
Developmental Trajectory for Production of Prosody: Lexical Stress Contrastivity in Children Ages 3 to 7 Years and in Adults
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Danica Djaja
    University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Joanne Arciuli
    University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Deborah G. H. James
    Women’s and Children’s Health Network, Adelaide, South Australia
  • Jan van Doorn
    Umeå University, Sweden
  • Correspondence to Kirrie J. Ballard: kirrie.ballard@sydney.edu.au
  • Editor: Anne Smith
    Editor: Anne Smith×
  • Associate Editor: Susan Nittrouer
    Associate Editor: Susan Nittrouer×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech
Article   |   December 2012
Developmental Trajectory for Production of Prosody: Lexical Stress Contrastivity in Children Ages 3 to 7 Years and in Adults
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2012, Vol. 55, 1822-1835. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/11-0257)
History: Received September 15, 2011 , Revised January 12, 2012 , Accepted March 7, 2012
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2012, Vol. 55, 1822-1835. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/11-0257)
History: Received September 15, 2011; Revised January 12, 2012; Accepted March 7, 2012
Web of Science® Times Cited: 14

PurposeAccurate production of lexical stress within English polysyllabic words is critical for intelligibility and is affected in many speech-language disorders. However, models of speech production remain underspecified with regard to lexical stress. In this study, the authors report a large-scale acoustic investigation of lexical stress production in typically developing Australian English–speaking children ages 3–7 years (n = 73) compared with young adults (n = 24).

MethodParticipants named pictures of highly familiar strong–weak and weak–strong polysyllabic words. Of 388 productions, 325 met criteria for acoustic measurement. Relative vowel duration, peak intensity, and peak f0 over the first two syllables were measured.

ResultLexical stress was marked consistently by duration and intensity but not f0. Lexical stress on strong–weak words was adultlike by 3 years. All 3 measures showed significant differences between adults and children for weak–strong words still present at 7 years.

ConclusionOur findings suggest that protracted development of weak–strong stress production reflects physiological constraints on producing short articulatory durations and rising intensity contours. Findings validate treatment that is centered on strong–weak stress production for children ≥ 3 years with dysprosody. Although intervention for the production of weak–strong words may be initiated before age 7 years, reference to normative acoustic data is preferable to relying on perceptual judgments of accuracy.

Acknowledgments
We thank Robert Heard for assistance with statistical analysis and Ian Simpson, Elise Baker, and Susana Melara with data collection and lexical stress measurements.
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