[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Research undertaken to date suggests that important developments in the understanding and use of intonation may take place after the age of 5;0. The present study aims to provide a more comprehensive account of these developments. A specially designed battery of prosodic tasks was administered to four groups of thirty children, from London (U.K.), with mean ages of 5;6, 8;7, 10;10 and 13;9. The tasks tap comprehension and production of functional aspects of intonation, in four communicative areas: CHUNKING (i.e. prosodic phrasing), AFFECT, INTERACTION and FOCUS. Results indicate that there is considerable variability among children within each age band on most tasks. The ability to produce intonation functionally is largely established in five-year-olds, though some specific functional contrasts are not mastered until C.A. 8;7. Aspects of intonation comprehension continue to develop up to C.A. 10;10, correlating with measures of expressive and receptive language development.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It is often thought that the ability to use prosodic features accurately is mastered in early childhood. However, research to date has produced conflicting evidence, notably about the development of children's ability to mark prosodic boundaries. This paper investigates (i) whether, by the age of eight, children use temporal boundary features in their speech in a systematic way, and (ii) to what extent adult listeners are able to interpret their production accurately and unambiguously. The material consists of minimal pairs of utterances: one utterance includes a compound noun, in which there is no prosodic boundary after the first noun, e.g. ‘coffee-cake and tea’, while the other utterance includes simple nouns, separated by a prosodic boundary, e.g. ‘coffee, cake and tea’. Ten eight-year-old children took part, and their productions were rated by 23 adult listeners. Two phonetic exponents of prosodic boundaries were analysed: pause duration and phrase-final lengthening. The results suggest that, at the age of 8, there is considerable variability among children in their ability to mark phrase boundaries of the kind analysed in the experiment, with some children failing to differentiate between the members of the minimal pairs reliably. The differences between the children in their use of boundary features were reflected in the adults' perceptual judgements. Both temporal cues to prosodic boundaries significantly affected the perceptual ratings, with pause being a more salient determinant of ratings than phrase-final lengthening.
Journal of the International Phonetic Association 01/2004;