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The unintelligibility of speech to children*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 September 2008

Ellen Gurman Bard
Affiliation:
University of Edinburgh
Anne H. Anderson
Affiliation:
University of Edinburgh

Abstract

Words artificially isolated from twelve parents' speech to their children (aged 1; 10–3; 0) were significantly less intelligible to adult listeners than words originally spoken to an adult. This effect holds for randomly sampled words and, to a lesser extent, for matched pairs. While parents did not adjust the clarity of word tokens to the linguistic naiveté of the child listeners, they did adjust intelligibility inversely to the observed predictability of the sampled words in their sentence contexts, and words to children proved more redundant in this sense. The relationship of these findings to other work on the clarity of motherese is examined and the implications for the study of children's speech perception outlined.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1983

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Footnotes

[*]

The research reported here was supported by Social Science Research Council project grant HR 6130 to J. D. M. H. Laver and the first author. The authors wish to thank Dr T. G. Bower for help in obtaining informants and Dr Laver, Dr J. Marshall, Dr T. Pitcairn, Dr M. Donaldson-Salter and Mr P. Fisk for discussion of various aspects of the work. Any remaining errors are our own. Address for correspondence: E. G. Bard, Department of Linguistics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9LL.

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