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Journal Article

Paralinguistic Features of Adult Speech to Infants and Small Children

Joseph L. Jacobson, David C. Boersma, Robert B. Fields and Karen L. Olson
Child Development
Vol. 54, No. 2 (Apr., 1983), pp. 436-442
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1129704
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1129704
Page Count: 7
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Paralinguistic Features of Adult Speech to Infants and Small Children
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Abstract

The propensity to raise and vary the pitch of one's voice when addressing an infant or small child was investigated in a sample of 16 male and 16 female adults, half of whom were married with children and half of whom had never married and never had children. Fundamental frequency was assessed using a sound spectrograph. Mean fundamental frequency and average variability both increased significantly over baseline when subjects were asked to imagine speaking to an infant or small child and increased significantly again when an infant or a small child was actually present. Nonparents who had little prior experience with infants modified their fundamental frequency as much as parents. Sex of speaker was not significantly related to the modification of fundamental frequency when sex differences in range of modal frequency were held constant. These modifications in vocal frequency may be attributable either to a biologically based propensity in the adult speaker or to attentional feedback from the infant or small child.

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