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.
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