Acoustic characterization of the question-statement contrast in 4, 7 and 11 year-old children

Rupal Patel, Maria Grigos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Prosodic features of the speech signal include fundamental frequency (F0), intensity and duration. In order to study the development of prosody independent from segmental aspects of speech, we considered the question-statement contrast. In English, adults mark the contrast using changes in fundamental frequency, duration and intensity, with F0 being the most prominent cue. Declarative questions are marked by rising intonation whereas statements are marked by falling intonation. While previous studies have noted that young children can signal this contrast in imitative paradigms, little is known about the acoustic cues children use at different stages in development. The present study sought to provide an acoustic characterization of prosodic cues used by 12 children from three age groups, 4-year-olds, 7-year-olds and 11-year-olds, for elicited productions of declarative statements and questions. Results indicated that 4-year-olds were unable to reliably signal questions using rising fundamental frequency contour. Instead, they used increased final syllable duration to mark questions. Children in the 7-year-old group used all three cues, fundamental frequency, intensity and syllable duration, to contrast questions from statements. The oldest group relied primarily on changes in fundamental frequency and less so on intensity and duration cues. An age-related pattern is evident in that children employ different combinations of acoustic cues to mark the question-statement contrast across development. The impact of motor and cognitive-linguistic complexity on the development of prosodic control is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1308-1318
Number of pages11
JournalSpeech Communication
Volume48
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2006

Fingerprint

Fundamental Frequency
Acoustics
acoustics
Cues
Linguistics
Accidental Falls
Prosody
Speech Signal
age group
Group
Paradigm
Children
paradigm
linguistics
Age Groups

Keywords

  • Acoustics
  • Acquisition
  • Children
  • Development
  • Intonation
  • Prosody
  • Questions
  • Speech
  • Statements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this

Acoustic characterization of the question-statement contrast in 4, 7 and 11 year-old children. / Patel, Rupal; Grigos, Maria.

In: Speech Communication, Vol. 48, No. 10, 10.2006, p. 1308-1318.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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