Children's Perception of Conversational and Clear American-English Vowels in Noise Purpose Much of a child's day is spent listening to speech in the presence of background noise. Although accurate vowel perception is important for listeners' accurate speech perception and comprehension, little is known about children's vowel perception in noise. Clear speech is a speech style frequently used by talkers in ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2015
Children's Perception of Conversational and Clear American-English Vowels in Noise
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Dorothy Leone
    Iona College, New Rochelle, NY
  • Erika S. Levy
    Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Dorothy Leone: dleone@iona.edu
  • Editor: Jody Kreiman
    Editor: Jody Kreiman×
  • Associate Editor: Ewa Jacewicz
    Associate Editor: Ewa Jacewicz×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Normal Language Processing / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2015
Children's Perception of Conversational and Clear American-English Vowels in Noise
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2015, Vol. 58, 213-226. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-S-13-0285
History: Received October 20, 2013 , Revised May 23, 2014 , Accepted December 22, 2014
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2015, Vol. 58, 213-226. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-S-13-0285
History: Received October 20, 2013; Revised May 23, 2014; Accepted December 22, 2014
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1

Purpose Much of a child's day is spent listening to speech in the presence of background noise. Although accurate vowel perception is important for listeners' accurate speech perception and comprehension, little is known about children's vowel perception in noise. Clear speech is a speech style frequently used by talkers in the presence of noise. This study investigated children's identification of vowels in nonsense words in noise and examined whether adults' use of clear speech would result in the children's more accurate vowel identification.

Method Two female American-English (AE) speaking adults were recorded producing the nonsense word /gəbVpə/ with AE vowels /ɛ-æ-ɑ-ʌ/ in phrases in conversational and clear speech. These utterances were presented to 15 AE-speaking children (ages 5.0–8.5 years) at a signal-to-noise ratio of −6 dB. The children repeated the utterances.

Results Clear-speech vowels were repeated significantly more accurately (87%) than conversational-speech vowels (59%), suggesting that clear speech aids children's vowel identification. Children repeated one talker's vowels more accurately than the other's, and front vowels more accurately than central and back vowels.

Conclusion The findings support the use of clear speech for enhancing adult-to-child communication in AE in noisy environments.

Acknowledgments
The authors wish to thank the Speech Production and Perception Lab of Teachers College, Columbia University, with special thanks to Miriam Baigorri, Sih-Chiao Hsu, Gemma Moya-Galé, Georgia Duan, Bethany Hetrick, and Elanna Seid. The authors are also thankful for the suggestions by Luca Campanelli, Robert Remez, Karen Froud, and Honor O'Malley.
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