Examination of the Locus of Positional Effects on Children's Production of Plural –s: Considerations From Local and Global Speech Planning Purpose Prosodic and articulatory factors influence children's production of inflectional morphemes. For example, plural –s is produced more reliably in utterance-final compared to utterance-medial position (i.e., the positional effect), which has been attributed to the increased planning time in utterance-final position. In previous investigations of plural –s, utterance-medial plurals were ... Research Note
Research Note  |   June 01, 2015
Examination of the Locus of Positional Effects on Children's Production of Plural –s: Considerations From Local and Global Speech Planning
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Rachel M. Theodore
    University of Connecticut, Storrs
  • Katherine Demuth
    Macquarie University, North Ryde, New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
    Santa Fe Institute, New Mexico
  • Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel
    Speech Communication Group, Research Laboratory of Electronics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
  • 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 Rachel M. Theodore: rachel.theodore@uconn.edu
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Ann Tyler
    Associate Editor: Ann Tyler×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Notes
Research Note   |   June 01, 2015
Examination of the Locus of Positional Effects on Children's Production of Plural –s: Considerations From Local and Global Speech Planning
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2015, Vol. 58, 946-953. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-14-0208
History: Received August 5, 2014 , Revised October 24, 2014 , Accepted February 4, 2015
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2015, Vol. 58, 946-953. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-14-0208
History: Received August 5, 2014; Revised October 24, 2014; Accepted February 4, 2015
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1

Purpose Prosodic and articulatory factors influence children's production of inflectional morphemes. For example, plural –s is produced more reliably in utterance-final compared to utterance-medial position (i.e., the positional effect), which has been attributed to the increased planning time in utterance-final position. In previous investigations of plural –s, utterance-medial plurals were followed by a stop consonant (e.g., dogs bark), inducing high articulatory complexity. We examined whether the positional effect would be observed if the utterance-medial context were simplified to a following vowel.

Method An elicited imitation task was used to collect productions of plural nouns from 2-year-old children. Nouns were elicited utterance-medially and utterance-finally, with the medial plural followed by either a stressed or an unstressed vowel. Acoustic analysis was used to identify evidence of morpheme production.

Results The positional effect was absent when the morpheme was followed by a vowel (e.g., dogs eat). However, it returned when the vowel-initial word contained 2 syllables (e.g., dogs arrive), suggesting that the increased processing load in the latter condition negated the facilitative effect of the easy articulatory context.

Conclusions Children's productions of grammatical morphemes reflect a rich interaction between emerging levels of linguistic competence, raising considerations for diagnosis and rehabilitation of language disorders.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported in part by National Institutes of Health Grant R01 HD 057606, awarded to K. Demuth and S. Shattuck-Hufnagel; Australian Research Council Grant CE 110001021, awarded to K. Demuth; and Australian Research Council Grant FL 130100014, awarded to K. Demuth. Portions of these data were presented at the 85th meeting of the Linguistic Society of America and at the 164th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America. We thank Melanie Cabral, Karen Evans, and Ivan Yuen for assistance with data collection and acoustic coding.
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