Chapter published in:Contemporary Trends in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics: Selected papers from the Hispanic Linguistic Symposium 2015
Edited by Jonathan E. MacDonald
[Issues in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics 15] 2018
► pp. 281–308
Mothers’ use of F0 after the first year of life in American English and Peninsular Spanish
Infant-directed speech has been shown to be different from adult-directed speech in that it is generally characterized by short, acoustically exaggerated (e.g. higher F0 peaks, wider F0 range) utterances (Fernald et al., 1989; Kitamura et al., 2001, inter alia). Thus, at some point parents begin to change these acoustic parameters once the child is no longer an infant. The present study uses longitudinal data to compare F0 use in two language varieties, American English (AE) and Peninsular Spanish (PS), in an effort to understand how two prosodic aspects (mean F0 and F0 range) change after a child’s first birthday. Specifically, we asked how these parameters might change as a function of the child’s linguistic development, here defined as the children’s mean length of utterance (MLU). Results show that mothers show changes in their use of both of these parameters after the second birthday, with turning points between 28 and 31 months. MLU was not found to be a significant predictor for either language. Additionally, despite differences in how AE and PS exploit F0 for expressing focus, both AE- and PS-speaking mothers were shown to use more narrow F0 range for utterances not containing a focused element sometime after 30 months. Implications for language acquisition are discussed.
Keywords: Mean F0, F0 range, child-directed speech, infant-directed speech, Peninsular Spanish, American English
Published online: 14 February 2018
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