In previous investigations of the child’s acquisition of simple and complex syllable onsets in word initial position, a number of developmental trends have been observed. In the early stages of development, plosives have been reported to be substituted by a plosive at another, usually more fronted, place of articulation. Initial fricatives, on the other hand, have been reported to be substituted by plosive-like speech segments. At later stages of development, the child’s productions of plosives and fricatives in word initial position have been transcribed as increasingly adult-like.
As to complex syllable onsets, children’s’ productions have been reported to go through stages of reduction or simplification at the onset of attempted cluster production. In an earlier investigation, the progression through this stage in development has been investigated acoustically through measurement of voice onset time and aspiration (Karlsson et al., 2002). The results indicated a strong tendency towards short lagged voice onset time at the onset of production of voiceless plosives and long lagged voice onset time at later stages, for the same speech sound category.
This paper presents an investigation of the correlation between development in consonant quality and acoustic correlates of voicing and aspiration in the productions of children aged 77-218 weeks. Productions of target words with an initial fricative, voiced plosive, voiceless plosive or s+plosive cluster were collected from 21 children (12 male and 9 female) who were recorded at monthly intervals for up to one year per child. The total number of syllable onsets analysed was 4133. Using this corpus, the correlation of onset of production of plosives with non-fronted target places of articulation and the rise in mean voice onset time length are currently under investigation. The investigation includes correlations between time of reaching a steady state in voice onset time, aspiration length and the time of steady production of consonants with adult quality. Finally, correlation between the time of onset of production of complex syllable onsets will be considered and included in the model.
The results from the correlation study will be presented and the implications for the study of consonant cluster production development will be discussed.