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Abstract

Purpose: This study reports on a cross-sectional investigation of lingual coarticulation in 57 typically developing German children (four cohorts from 3.5 to 7 years of age) as compared with 12 adults. It examines whether the organization of lingual gestures for intrasyllabic coarticulation differs as a function of age and consonantal context. Method: Using the technique of ultrasound imaging, we recorded movement of the tongue articulator during the production of pseudo words including various vocalic and consonantal contexts. Results: Results from linear mixed effects models show greater lingual coarticulation in all groups of children as compared to adults with a significant decrease from the kindergarten years (at 3; 4; 5) to the end of the first year into primary school (at 7). Additional differences in coarticulation degree were found across and within age groups as a function of the onset consonant identity (/b/, /d/ and /g/). Conclusions: Results support the view that although coarticulation degree decreases with age, children do not organize consecutive articulatory gestures with a uniform organizational scheme (e.g., segmental or syllabic). Instead results suggest coarticulatory organization is sensitive to the underlying articulatory properties of the segments combined.

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