Covert contrast in velar fronting: An acoustic and ultrasound study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

There is growing evidence that speech sound acquisition is a gradual process, with instrumental measures frequently revealing covert contrast in errors perceived to involve phonemic substitution. Ultrasound imaging has the potential to expand our understanding of covert contrast by showing whether a child uses different tongue shapes while producing sounds that are perceived as neutralised. This study used an ultrasound measure (Dorsum Excursion Index) and acoustic measures (VOT and spectral moments of the burst) to investigate overt and covert contrast between velar and alveolar stops in child speech. Participants were two children who produced a perceptually overt velar-alveolar contrast and two children who neutralised the contrast via velar fronting. Both acoustic and ultrasound measures revealed significant differences between perceptually distinct velar and alveolar targets. One child with velar fronting demonstrated covert contrast in one acoustic and one ultrasound measure; the other showed no evidence of contrast. Clinical implications are discussed in this article.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalClinical Linguistics and Phonetics
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Aug 31 2015

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Acoustics
acoustics
Phonetics
Tongue
substitution
evidence
Ultrasonography
Ultrasound
Velars
Alveolars

Keywords

  • Acoustics
  • child speech
  • covert contrasts
  • ultrasound
  • velars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Speech and Hearing
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics

Cite this

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abstract = "There is growing evidence that speech sound acquisition is a gradual process, with instrumental measures frequently revealing covert contrast in errors perceived to involve phonemic substitution. Ultrasound imaging has the potential to expand our understanding of covert contrast by showing whether a child uses different tongue shapes while producing sounds that are perceived as neutralised. This study used an ultrasound measure (Dorsum Excursion Index) and acoustic measures (VOT and spectral moments of the burst) to investigate overt and covert contrast between velar and alveolar stops in child speech. Participants were two children who produced a perceptually overt velar-alveolar contrast and two children who neutralised the contrast via velar fronting. Both acoustic and ultrasound measures revealed significant differences between perceptually distinct velar and alveolar targets. One child with velar fronting demonstrated covert contrast in one acoustic and one ultrasound measure; the other showed no evidence of contrast. Clinical implications are discussed in this article.",
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