Phonetic Imitation by Young Children and Its Developmental Changes Purpose In the current study, the author investigated the developmental course of phonetic imitation in childhood, and further evaluated existing accounts of phonetic imitation. Method Sixteen preschoolers, 15 third graders, and 18 college students participated in the current study. An experiment with a modified imitation paradigm with a ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 2014
Phonetic Imitation by Young Children and Its Developmental Changes
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Kuniko Nielsen
    Oakland University, Rochester, MI
  • Disclosure: The author has declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The author has declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Kuniko Nielsen: nielsen@oakland.edu
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Megha Sundara
    Associate Editor: Megha Sundara×
Article Information
Development / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 2014
Phonetic Imitation by Young Children and Its Developmental Changes
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2014, Vol. 57, 2065-2075. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-S-13-0093
History: Received April 11, 2013 , Revised October 18, 2013 , Accepted July 4, 2014
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2014, Vol. 57, 2065-2075. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-S-13-0093
History: Received April 11, 2013; Revised October 18, 2013; Accepted July 4, 2014
Web of Science® Times Cited: 4

Purpose In the current study, the author investigated the developmental course of phonetic imitation in childhood, and further evaluated existing accounts of phonetic imitation.

Method Sixteen preschoolers, 15 third graders, and 18 college students participated in the current study. An experiment with a modified imitation paradigm with a picture-naming task was conducted, in which participants' voice-onset time (VOT) was compared before and after they were exposed to target speech with artificially increased VOT.

Results Extended VOT in the target speech was imitated by preschoolers and 3rd graders as well as adults, confirming previous findings in phonetic imitation. Furthermore, an age effect of phonetic imitation was observed; namely, children showed greater imitation than adults, whereas the degree of imitation was comparable between preschoolers and 3rd graders. No significant effect of gender or word specificity was observed.

Conclusions Young children imitated fine phonetic details of the target speech, and greater degree of phonetic imitation was observed in children compared to adults. These findings suggest that the degree of phonetic imitation negatively correlates with phonological development.

Acknowledgments
This project was funded by a URC Faculty Research Fellowship from Oakland University. I would like to thank Patricia Keating and members of the Phondi discussion group at the University of Michigan for their comments, Robert Kushler for his help with statistical analysis, and Steve Charteris for help with data processing.
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