Astruc-Aguilera, L.; Payne, E.; Post, B.; Prieto, P. and Vanrell, M. M.
Acquisition of tonal targets in Catalan, Spanish and English.
Cambridge Occasional Papers in Linguistics, 5
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This study analyzes the distribution, scaling and alignment of low and high targets in the productions of 36 children; 12 English, 12 Catalan, and 12 Spanish, between the ages of 2 and 6 years. We have compared the intonational patterns of words controlled for number of syllables and stress position in the children's speech to the adult target provided by their mothers, both elicited with a controlled naming task. A total of 624 utterances were analyzed following the Autosegmental Metrical framework. Our results show that children as young as two can control relevant intonation parameters such as pitch height and pitch timing, although they still do not control syllabic duration and they still lengthen excessively final syllables. Even the youngest children show adult-like alignment of the low target, but their mastery of the high target increases with age. The prosodic typology of the ambient language influences the acquisition of tonal targets; young Spanish children show a more precise alignment of pitch scaling and of the alignment of the high targets than Catalan and English children.
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