Voiceless alveolar stop coarticulation in typically developing 5-year-olds and 13-year-olds
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Zharkova, N. (2017) Voiceless alveolar stop coarticulation in typically developing 5-year-olds and 13-year-olds, Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, vol. 31, , pp. 503-513,
In this study, vowel-on-consonant lingual coarticulation at [t] closure offset was compared in 5-year-old children and 13-year-old adolescents. The study aimed to establish whether, by the end of the closure, children from the younger age group adjust the tongue shape to the following vowels to the same extent as adolescents. Ten 5-year-olds and ten 13-year-olds, all speakers of Scottish Standard English, produced [t]-vowel syllables with the vowels [i] and [a], in a carrier phrase. Measures of tongue shape based on midsagittal ultrasound imaging data were used to compare anticipatory coarticulation and within-speaker variability across groups. Both age groups changed the extent of tongue dorsum bunching in order to coarticulate the consonant with the following vowels. The 5-year-old children, unlike the adolescents, did not consistently modify the bunching location within the tongue curve to accommodate the tongue shape to that of the upcoming vowel. Token-to-token variability was significantly greater in the younger age group. The results suggest that vowel-on-[t] coarticulatory patterns produced by typically developing children are affected by the development of motor control, with articulatory constraints on the tongue limiting the extent of lingual coarticulation in 5-year-old children. The findings on typical coarticulation development are relevant for clinical practice, and they highlight the need for more detailed descriptions of how phonetic characteristics of speech sounds affect coarticulation throughout childhood.