Quantifying the Robustness of the English Sibilant Fricative Contrast in Children Purpose Four measures of children's developing robustness of phonological contrast were compared to see how they correlated with age, vocabulary size, and adult listeners' correctness ratings. Method Word-initial sibilant fricative productions from eighty-one 2- to 5-year-old children and 20 adults were phonetically transcribed and acoustically analyzed. Four measures ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2015
Quantifying the Robustness of the English Sibilant Fricative Contrast in Children
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jeffrey J. Holliday
    The Ohio State University, Columbus
    Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Patrick F. Reidy
    The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Mary E. Beckman
    The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Jan Edwards
    University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • 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 Jeffrey J. Holliday: jeffh@ling.ohio-state.edu
  • Editor: Jody Kreiman
    Editor: Jody Kreiman×
  • Associate Editor: Karen Forrest
    Associate Editor: Karen Forrest×
Article Information
Development / Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Hearing Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2015
Quantifying the Robustness of the English Sibilant Fricative Contrast in Children
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2015, Vol. 58, 622-637. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-S-14-0090
History: Received March 27, 2014 , Revised October 25, 2014 , Accepted February 10, 2015
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2015, Vol. 58, 622-637. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-S-14-0090
History: Received March 27, 2014; Revised October 25, 2014; Accepted February 10, 2015
Web of Science® Times Cited: 8

Purpose Four measures of children's developing robustness of phonological contrast were compared to see how they correlated with age, vocabulary size, and adult listeners' correctness ratings.

Method Word-initial sibilant fricative productions from eighty-one 2- to 5-year-old children and 20 adults were phonetically transcribed and acoustically analyzed. Four measures of robustness of contrast were calculated for each speaker on the basis of the centroid frequency measured from each fricative token. Productions that were transcribed as correct from different children were then used as stimuli in a perception experiment in which adult listeners rated the goodness of each production.

Results Results showed that the degree of category overlap, quantified as the percentage of a child's productions whose category could be correctly predicted from the output of a mixed-effects logistic regression model, was the measure that correlated best with listeners' goodness judgments.

Conclusions Even when children's productions have been transcribed as correct, adult listeners are sensitive to within-category variation quantified by the child's degree of category overlap. Further research is needed to explore the relationship between the age of a child and adults' sensitivity to different types of within-category variation in children's speech.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant R01-02932 to Jan Edwards and Mary E. Beckman, NSF Grant BCS-0729140 to Jan Edwards, NSF Grant BCS-0729306 to Mary E. Beckman, and National Institute of Child Health & Human Development Grant P30-HD03352 to the Waisman Center. We thank Laura Slocum for making the stimuli for the production experiment; Laura Slocum and Anne Hoffmann for recruiting and recording the children and adults for this experiment; Fangfang Li, Chanelle Mays, Oxana Skorniakova, Asimina Syrika, and Julie Johnson for tagging the edges of the target sibilant fricatives in these productions; Eunjong Kong for help with the development and analysis of Experiment 2; and Ryan Sovinski for recruiting and recording the adults for Experiment 2 (which was her master's thesis). We also thank the children who participated in Experiment 1 and their parents, as well as the participants of Experiment 2. The idea of using slopes and prediction accuracy rates from logistic regression models was presented at Interspeech 2010 in an article by the first and third authors and Chanelle Mays, and we thank the audience at Interspeech for useful comments that helped shape the further development of the idea in the current article.
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