Acoustic cues to stop-coda voicing contrasts in the speech of 2-3-year-olds learning American English

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Stevens (2002) postulates that speakers represent words in terms of distinctive features, with different acoustic cues signaling the feature contrasts in different contexts. Imbrie (2002) suggests that children use cues differently from adults in word-onset consonants. This paper explores these differences for word-final stops, using detailed acoustic analyses of cues to the voicing contrast in 2 children (2;5 and 3;2). Voiced coda stops were associated with a long voice bar during closure and an epenthetic vowel after release; voiceless coda stops with noisy and/or glottalized voice quality toward the vowel end, suggesting that incomplete control of gestural coordination, immature planning ability, or non-adult-like decisions about enhancing feature cues, may persist even after the child is producing recognizable stops.


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