The aim of this study was to examine the acoustic and spectral patterns of stop articulation in the speech of pre-pubescent children. A set of voiceless stop consonants, /ptk/, produced by a group of adults and typically developing children 3-5 years of age were examined in terms of multiple acoustic and spectral parameters. Findings indicated that, with the exception of spectral kurtosis, the acoustic and spectral characteristics of the stop productions varied significantly as a function of place of articulation and vowel context. Sex-specific differences in spectral slope, mean, and skewness were found for the 5-year-old and adult speakers. Such differences in adult speakers can be explained in part by variation in vocal tract size across the sex of the speaker; however, vocal tract dimorphism is typically not present in pre-pubescent children. Thus, the findings of this study provide some support that sex-specific differences in the speech patterns of young children may be associated with learned or behavioral factors, such as patterns of obstruent articulation that depend in part on a culturally determined male-female archetype.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/robert_fox/133/