There are intuitive reasons to believe that speech-sound acquisition and language acquisition should be related in development. Surprisingly, only recently has research begun to parse just how the two might be related. This study investigated possible correlations between speech-sound acquisition and language acquisition, as part of a large-scale, longitudinal study of the relationship between different types of phonological development and vocabulary growth in the preschool years. Productions of voiced and voiceless stop-initial words were recorded from 96 children aged 28-39 months. Voice Onset Time (VOT, in ms) for each token context was calculated. A mixed-model logistic regression was calculated which predicted whether the sound was intended to be voiced or voiceless based on its VOT. This model estimated the slopes of the logistic function for each child. This slope was referred to as Robustness of Contrast (based on Holliday, Reidy, Beckman, and Edwards, 2015), defined as being the degree of categorical differentiation between the production of two speech sounds or classes of sounds, in this case, voiced and voiceless stops. Results showed a wide range of slopes for individual children, suggesting that slope-derived Robustness of Contrast could be a viable means of measuring a child’s acquisition of the voicing contrast. Robustness of Contrast was then compared to traditional measures of speech and language skills to investigate whether there was any correlation between the production of stop voicing and broader measures of speech and language development. The Robustness of Contrast measure was found to correlate with all individual measures of speech and language, suggesting that it might indeed be predictive of later language skills.
University of Minnesota M.A. thesis. May 2016. Major: Speech-Language Pathology. Advisor: Benjamin Munson. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 41 pages.
Stop consonant voicing in young children's speech: Evidence from a cross-sectional study.
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