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How salient are onomatopoeia in the early input? A prosodic analysis of infant-directed speech

Laing, Catherine, Vihman, Marilyn and Keren-Portnoy, Tamar 2017. How salient are onomatopoeia in the early input? A prosodic analysis of infant-directed speech. Journal of Child Language 44 (05) , pp. 1117-1139. 10.1017/S0305000916000428

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Onomatopoeia are frequently identified amongst infants’ earliest words (Menn & Vihman, 2011), yet few authors have considered why this might be, and even fewer have explored this phenomenon empirically. Here we analyze mothers’ production of onomatopoeia in infant-directed speech (IDS) to provide an input-based perspective on these forms. Twelve mothers were recorded interacting with their 8-month-olds; onomatopoeic words (e.g. quack) were compared acoustically with their corresponding conventional words (duck). Onomatopoeia were more salient than conventional words across all features measured: mean pitch, pitch range, word duration, repetition, and pause length. Furthermore, a systematic pattern was observed in the production of onomatopoeia, suggesting a conventionalized approach to mothers’ production of these words in IDS.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0305-0009
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 September 2017
Date of Acceptance: 31 July 2016
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2017 15:11

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