Production of the Question-Statement Contrast during Development

M Grigos, R Patel


The present study examined articulator movement and speech acoustics in 4, 7 and 11-year-old children as they produced the question-statement contrast.  The duration, displacement and velocity of lip and jaw movements were examined as children produced the utterance “Show Bob a bot.”  Acoustic measures of average fundamental frequency (f0), peak f0, slope of f0, average intensity, peak intensity and duration were also examined.  Preliminary results revealed differences in jaw movement, fundamental frequency and duration in the children. There were no statistically significant differences in questions versus statements for the 4-year-old.  The 7 and 11-year-olds primarily modified jaw displacement, duration and velocity in the final vowel in the utterance (a bot) to denote a difference between questions and statements. The changes in the older children were accompanied by higher average f0, higher peak f0, increasing slope of f0 and longer final syllable duration in the questions compared to statements. Our preliminary analyses suggest that stable articulator movements and acoustic patterns for marking the question-statement contrast are achieved between the ages of 4 and 7.