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Final Syllable Lengthening (FSL) in infant vocalizations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 March 2003

The University of Georgia
The University of Memphis
The University of Maine


Final Syllable Lengthening (FSL) has been extensively examined in infant vocalizations in order to determine whether its basis is biological or learned. Findings suggest there may be a U-shaped developmental trajectory for FSL. The present study sought to verify this pattern and to determine whether vocal maturity and deafness influence FSL. Eight normally hearing infants, aged 0;3 to 1;0, and eight deaf infants, aged 0;8 to 4;0, were examined at three levels of prelinguistic vocal development: precanonical, canonical, and postcanonical. FSL was found at all three levels suggesting a biological basis for this phenomenon. Individual variability was, however, considerable. Reduction in the magnitude of FSL across the three sessions provided some support for a downward trend for FSL in infancy. Findings further indicated that auditory deprivation can significantly affect temporal aspects of infant speech production.

Research Article
© 2003 Cambridge University Press

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This work was supported in part by a dissertation grant from the Purdue Research Foundation. We gratefully acknowledge the invaluable assistance of Michael Lynch in designing the study and of Pat Blackwell and Ayasakanta Rout in determining reliability. We would also like to thank the reviewers and Joe Dinapoli for their comments. Portions of this work were presented at the 1999 Child Phonology Conference in Wales.