Acoustic Evidence for Positional and Complexity Effects on Children’s Production of Plural –s PurposeSome variability in children’s early productions of grammatical morphemes reflects phonological factors. For example, production of 3rd person singular –s is increased in utterance-final versus utterance-medial position and in simple versus cluster codas (e.g., sees vs. hits). Understanding the factors that govern such variability is an important step toward modeling ... Article
Article  |   April 01, 2011
Acoustic Evidence for Positional and Complexity Effects on Children’s Production of Plural –s
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Rachel M. Theodore
    Brown University, Providence, RI
    Brown University, Providence, RI
  • Katherine Demuth
    Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
    Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
  • Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
  • Correspondence to Rachel M. Theodore: rachel_theodore@brown.edu
  • Editor: Janna Oetting
    Editor: Janna Oetting×
  • Associate Editor: Jessica Barlow
    Associate Editor: Jessica Barlow×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Voice Disorders / Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language
Article   |   April 01, 2011
Acoustic Evidence for Positional and Complexity Effects on Children’s Production of Plural –s
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2011, Vol. 54, 539-548. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/10-0035)
History: Received February 8, 2010 , Accepted July 3, 2010
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2011, Vol. 54, 539-548. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/10-0035)
History: Received February 8, 2010; Accepted July 3, 2010
Web of Science® Times Cited: 15

PurposeSome variability in children’s early productions of grammatical morphemes reflects phonological factors. For example, production of 3rd person singular –s is increased in utterance-final versus utterance-medial position and in simple versus cluster codas (e.g., sees vs. hits). Understanding the factors that govern such variability is an important step toward modeling developmental processes. In this study, the authors examined the generality of these effects by determining whether position and coda complexity influence production of plural –s, which phonologically manifests the same as 3rd person singular –s.

MethodThe authors used an elicited imitation task to examine the speech of 16 two-year-olds. Eight plural nouns (half contained simple codas, half contained cluster codas) were elicited utterance-medially and utterance-finally. Acoustic analysis of each noun was used to identify acoustic cues associated with coda production.

ResultsResults showed that plural production was more robust in utterance-final versus utterance-medial position but equally robust in simple versus cluster codas.

ConclusionsThese findings extend positional effects on morpheme production to plural –s. An effect of coda complexity was not observed for plural but was observed for 3rd person singular, which raises the possibility that the morphological representation proper influences the degree to which phonological factors affect morpheme production.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by National Institutes of Health Grant R01 HD 057606. Portions of this work were presented at the 84th meeting of the Linguistic Society of America, Baltimore, MD, in January 2010. We thank Melanie Cabral and Karen Evans for assistance with data collection and analysis and Jae Yung Song for helpful comments on this article.
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