The Breadth of Coarticulatory Units in Children and Adults

Goffman, Lisa; Smith, Anne; Heisler, Lori; Ho, Michael
December 2008
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Dec2008, Vol. 51 Issue 6, p1424
Academic Journal
Purpose: To assess, in children and adults, the breadth of coarticulatory movements associated with a single rounded vowel. Method: Upper and lower lip movements were recorded from 8 young adults and 8 children (aged 4-5 years). A single rounded versus unrounded vowel was embedded in the medial position of pairs of 7-word/7-syllable sentences. Results: Both children and adults produced movement trajectories associated with lip rounding that were very broad temporally (i.e., movement duration lasting 45% to 56% of the sentence). Some effects appeared to extend across the entire utterance. There were no differences between children and adults in the extent of the coarticulatory effect. However, children produced relatively variable movements associated with lip rounding. Conclusions: These data support the hypothesis that, for young children and adults, broad chunks of output have been planned by the onset of implementation of a sentence. This implies that, based on a change in a single phoneme, the motor commands to the muscles are altered for the production of the entire sentence.


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