Acoustic-Lexical Characteristics of Child-Directed Speech Between 7 and 24 Months and Their Impact on Toddlers' Phonological Processing

Margaret Cychosz, Jan R. Edwards, Nan Bernstein Ratner, Catherine Torrington Eaton, Rochelle S. Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Speech-language input from adult caregivers is a strong predictor of children's developmental outcomes. But the properties of this child-directed speech are not static over the first months or years of a child's life. This study assesses a large cohort of children and caregivers (n = 84) at 7, 10, 18, and 24 months to document (1) how a battery of phonetic, phonological, and lexical characteristics of child-directed speech changes in the first 2 years of life and (2) how input at these different stages predicts toddlers' phonological processing and vocabulary size at 2 years. Results show that most measures of child-directed speech do change as children age, and certain characteristics, like hyperarticulation, actually peak at 24 months. For language outcomes, children's phonological processing benefited from exposure to longer (in phonemes) words, more diverse word types, and enhanced coarticulation in their input. It is proposed that longer words in the input may stimulate children's phonological working memory development, while heightened coarticulation simultaneously introduces important sublexical cues and exposes them to challenging, naturalistic speech, leading to overall stronger phonological processing outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number712647
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume12
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 24 2021

Keywords

  • acoustics
  • child-directed speech
  • lexicon
  • nonword repetition
  • phonological development
  • phonological neighborhood density
  • speech clarity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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