Speech Prosody 2006

Dresden, Germany
May 2-5, 2006

Acquisition of Prosody in a Spanish-English Bilingual Child

Sahyang Kim (1,2,3), Jean Andruski (1), Eugenia Casielles (2), Geoff S. Nathan (3), R. Work (2)

(1) Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology; (2) Department of Romance Languages and Literatures; (3) Department of English; Wayne State University, USA

The current study examined the pattern of prosodic phrasing and the distribution of post-lexical pitch accent types in a Spanish-English bilingual child. We collected utterances from natural interactions between parents and the child at the age of 2;6 and 3;0, and analyzed them using MAE_ToBI and SP_ToBI. Then we compared prosodic development across ages within each language, and compared the childís speech production with monolingual English and Spanish parentsí productions. Results revealed that both the child and parents divide their short utterances into smaller prosodic phrases and that most content words bear post-lexical pitch accent. The result suggests that there are abundant acoustic correlates of prosodic phrases and prominence in the language input, and it can make the word segmentation task easy for children. Results also showed that the majority of the childís English pitch accented words was produced with H*. This was similar to his fatherís pitch accent pattern, but he produced a higher number of H* than his father in general. He was able to produce the L+H* Spanish nuclear pitch accent with a similar frequency to that found in his language input, but was not able to produce as many L*+H as his mother in the prenuclear pitch accent context. As his language matures, however, his pitch accent distribution becomes similar to his parentsí distribution.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Kim, Sahyang / Andruski, Jean / Casielles, Eugenia / Nathan, Geoff S. / Work, R. (2006): "Acquisition of prosody in a Spanish-English bilingual child", In SP-2006, paper 086.