5th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Sydney, Australia
November 30 - December 4, 1998

A Phonetic and Acoustic Study of Babbling in an Italian Child

Claudio Zmarich, Roberta Lanni

CNR-Istituto di Fonetica e Dialettologia, Padova, Italy

This single case study aims to combine the auditory assessment method with the precision offered by the instrumental measurement of acoustic characteristics, in order to investigate the phonetic aspect of early speech development, namely babbling and early words. While generic progress may be determined in the increasing prevalence of the number of CV syllables within the global repertory of utterances, the aspects that better reveal the influence of a target language include the frequency of occurrence of vowel types, especially if their classification refers to front-back dimension, in combination with an expansion and refining of phonotactic possibilities. Further, acoustic and articulatory evidence reveals an initial tendency for more control of height dimension than front/back. The patterns of C-V associations suggest that the child develops from a babbling phase characterized by the overwhelming prevalence of front articulations, to a phase characterized by the presence of the first words, where the patterns predicted by the MacNeilage and Davis theory occur, perhaps owing to the presence of the same patterns in the target lexicon.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Zmarich, Claudio / Lanni, Roberta (1998): "A phonetic and acoustic study of babbling in an Italian child", In ICSLP-1998, paper 1004.