A cross-linguistic study of affective prosody production by monolingual and bilingual children
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Grichkovtsova, I. (2006) A cross-linguistic study of affective prosody production by monolingual and bilingual children, no. 188.
The main objective of the research reported in the dissertation was to investigate the production of affective speech by monolingual and simultaneous bilingual children in Scottish English and French. The study was designed to address several important issues with respect to affective speech. First, possibility of identifying and compar- ing acoustic correlates of affective speech in productions of monolingual children was explored in a cross-linguistic perspective. Second, affective speech of bilingual chil- dren was examined in their two languages and compared to that of their monolingual peers. Third, vocal emotions encoded by monolingual and bilingual children were tested through the identification by French and Scottish monolingual adults. Five bilingual and twelve monolingual children were recorded for a cross-linguistically comparable corpus of affective speech. Children played four emotions (anger, fear, sadness and happiness) on one token utterance with the help of visual materials, which served as the reference of the expressed emotions, and as an affect inducing material. A large number of child speakers brings better understanding of cross- language and within-language variability in vocal affective expressions. The corpus was acoustically analysed and used in a cross-linguistic perception test with Scottish and French monolingual adults. The results of the perception test support the existing view in the cross-cultural research on emotions: even if people from different cultural groups could identify each others' emotions, an in-group advantage was generally present. Another im- portant finding was that some affective states were more successfully identified in one of the languages by the two groups of listeners. Specifically, French anger, as expressed by bilingual and monolingual children, was identified more successfully by both French and Scottish listeners than anger, encoded by bilinguals and mono- linguals in Scottish English, thus suggesting that children showed some emotions more in one of the languages. The joint analysis of production and perception data confirmed the association of the studied acoustic correlates with affective states, but x also showed the variability of different strategies in their usage. While some speak- ers used all the measured acoustic correlates to a significantly large extent, other speakers used only some of them. Apparently, the usage of all the possible acoustic correlates is not obligatory for successful identification. Moreover, one of the studied affective states (fear) was characterised by more variable usage of acoustic correlates than others. Cross-linguistic differences were attested in the usage of some acoustic correlates and in the preferred strategies for the realisation of affective states. Simultaneous bilingual children could encode affective states in their two lan- guages; moreover, on average, their affective states are identified even better than those of monolingual children. This ability to successfully encode vocal emotions can be interpreted as a signal of high social competence in bilingual children. Produc- tion results show that all bilingual children realise some cross-linguistic differences in their affective speech. Nevertheless, interaction between the languages in the affec- tive speech was discovered both in the production and perception data for bilinguals. This finding comes in support of other studies which call language interaction as a characteristic feature of bilingual phonetic acquisition. The specific pattern of the affective speech realisation is individual for each bilingual child, depending on the affective state and on the used language. In this context, the theory of integrated continuum, developed by Cook (2003), is discussed for its possibility to describe the paralinguistic organisation in the bilingual mind. This thesis thus contributes to a better understanding of phonetic learning by monolingual and bilingual children in the context of affective speech. It also gives a detailed analysis of cross-language and within-language variability present in affec- tive speech. This new data will be of interest to the researchers working in speech sciences, psycholinguistics, developmental and cross-cultural psychology.