Vowel space and f0 characteristics of infant-directed singing and speech

Nicolas Audibert, Simone Falk


When adults talk to infants, they dramatically change the prosodic and acoustic structure of speech. Recently, new insights have been gained on those changes, especially on the vocalic and temporal structure of speech which are described as being more variable than in adult conversations. In the present contribution, we examine formant and fundamental frequency characteristics of different infant-directed registers, notably infant-directed speech and singing, the latter not being investigated so far. We present data from 14 German-speaking mothers singing a playsong and reading a story to their 6 months old infants, or to the experimenter. Infant- and infant-absent versions of speech and song were compared on the formant characteristics of the primary vowel triangle (/i, a, u/) and on general fundamental frequency changes. Our results show that vowel space did not differ in infant- and infant-absent versions of speech and song. However, vowel dispersion, i.e., formant variability, was higher in both infant-directed song and speech than in infant-absent versions. Consistent with previous findings, f0 was higher in infant- than infant-absent versions of speech and song, with song showing generally higher f0. These results are discussed in light of current approaches to the variability of infant-directed registers, and their attractiveness to infants.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-31

Cite as: Audibert, N., Falk, S. (2018) Vowel space and f0 characteristics of infant-directed singing and speech. Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018, 153-157, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-31.


@inproceedings{Audibert2018,
  author={Nicolas Audibert and Simone Falk},
  title={Vowel space and f0 characteristics of infant-directed singing and speech},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018},
  pages={153--157},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-31},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-31}
}