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Our motivation was to examine how toddler (2;6) and adult speakers of American English prosodically realize information status categories. The aims were three-fold: 1) to analyze how adults phonologically make information status distinctions; 2) to examine how these same categories are signaled in toddlers’ spontaneous speech; and 3) to analyze the three primary acoustic correlates of prosody (F0, intensity, and duration). During a spontaneous speech task designed as an interactive game, a set of target nouns was elicited as one of three types (new, given, corrective). Results show that toddlers primarily used H* across information status categories, with secondary preferences for deaccenting given information and for using L+H* for corrective information. Only duration distinguished information status, and duration, average pitch, and intensity differentiated pitch accent types for both adults and children. Discussion includes how pitch accent selection and input play a role in guiding prosodic realizations of information status.
This investigation focuses on the development of intonation patterns in four Catalan-speaking children and two Spanish-speaking children between 0 ; 11 and 2 ; 4. Pitch contours were prosodically analyzed within the Autosegmental Metrical framework in all meaningful utterances, for a total of 6558 utterances. The pragmatic meaning and communicative function were also assessed. Three main conclusions arise from the results. First, the study shows that the Autosegmental Metrical model can be successfully used to transcribe early intonation contours. Second, results reveal that children's emerging intonation is largely independent of grammatical development, and generally it develops well before the appearance of two-word combinations. As for the relationship between lexical and intonational development, the data show that the emergence of intonational grammar is related to the onset of speech and the presence of a small lexicon. Finally, we discuss the implications of these results for the biological hypothesis of intonational production.
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