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Developmental trends in voice onset time: some evidence for sex differences

By S.P. Whiteside and J. Marshall


This study reports on an investigation into the voice onset time (VOT) patterns of the plosives /p b t d/ in a group of 30 children aged 7 (n = 10), 9 (n = 10) and 11 (n = 10) years. Equal numbers of girls and boys participated in the study. Each child named a series of letter objects to elicit /p b t d/ in a syllable onset position with a fixed vowel context. VOT data were examined for age, sex and plosive differences with the following hypotheses: Firstly, that there would be sex differences in the VOT patterns of preadolescent children. Secondly, that the sex differences in VOT patterns would be linked to age and development, and that these would eventually become marked by the age of 11 years, by which time adult-like VOT values should have been achieved. Finally, that the extent of sex and age differences would be dependent upon the plosive being investigated. Results indicated patterns of decrease with age in the VOT values of /p b/ for the boys, with some evidence of increases in the VOT values of /t/ for the girls. In addition, 'voiced' and 'voiceless' cognates showed a more marked bimodal distribution in the girls' VOT patterns. This bimodal distribution was investigated by examining the degree of difference between the VOT values of voiced and voiceless cognate pairs /p b/ and /t d/, and examining the effects of age, sex and cognate pair. These results indicated that more marked sex differences in the 'voiced'/'voiceless' contrast emerged between the data of the 9- and 11-year-olds, a pattern, which was more marked for the alveolar plosives. These preliminary results confirmed all three hypotheses. The findings are presented and discussed both within a developmental and sociophonetic framework

Publisher: Karger
Year: 2001
OAI identifier:

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