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Temporal aspects of children’s production of consonant clusters Purves, Barbara Anne


This investigation was concerned with reduction in duration of consonants in clusters relative to duration in unclustered contexts. Specifically, the investigation was designed: (a) to determine whether certain consonants' durations were significantly reduced in consonant clusters in adult speech, (b) to determine whether differences in the amount of such reduction existed between age groups, and (c) to determine whether a linear, trend correlating age with amount of consonant reduction existed. Five age groups with five subjects in each group repeated words with initial consonants /s/, /f/, /l/, /w/, /sl/, /fl/, and /sw/. The age groups tested included five-year-olds, seven-year-olds, nine-year-olds, and eleven-year-olds, and an adult control group. Subjects' utterances were recorded and oscillograms of the recordings were measured for consonant duration. Analysis of durations indicated that /s/ and /f/ durations were significantly reduced, in clusters by all age groups but no significant differences between groups existed in amount of reduction of these consonants. Duration of /w/ was not significantly reduced by any age group duration of /l/ was significantly changed by the five-year-old group only. This group lengthened duration of /l/ in clusters. A trend analysis of age correlated with reduction of /l/ demonstrated that amount of reduction of duration of /!/ increases linearly with age between five and eleven years. Consonant reduction was discussed in terms of speech timing programmes. Differences between age groups in consonant duration reduction were discussed in terms of processes observed in children's acquisition of consonant clusters, and possible differences in speech timing programmes used by children and adults.

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