Effects of deafness on acoustic characteristics of American English tense/lax vowels in maternal speech to infants

Maria V. Kondaurova, Tonya R. Bergeson, Laura C. Dilley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent studies have demonstrated that mothers exaggerate phonetic properties of infant-directed (ID) speech. However, these studies focused on a single acoustic dimension (frequency), whereas speech sounds are composed of multiple acoustic cues. Moreover, little is known about how mothers adjust phonetic properties of speech to children with hearing loss. This study examined mothers' production of frequency and duration cues to the American English tense/lax vowel contrast in speech to profoundly deaf (N 14) and normal-hearing (N 14) infants, and to an adult experimenter. First and second formant frequencies and vowel duration of tense (/i/, /u/) and lax (/I/, /ω/) vowels were measured. Results demonstrated that for both infant groups mothers hyperarticulated the acoustic vowel space and increased vowel duration in ID speech relative to adult-directed speech. Mean F2 values were decreased for the /u/ vowel and increased for the /I/ vowel, and vowel duration was longer for the /i/, /u/, and /I/ vowels in ID speech. However, neither acoustic cue differed in speech to hearing-impaired or normal-hearing infants. These results suggest that both formant frequencies and vowel duration that differentiate American English tense/lx vowel contrasts are modified in ID speech regardless of the hearing status of the addressee.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1039-1049
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Volume132
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics

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