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Journal Article

Intonation Patterns in Child-Directed Speech: Mother-Father Differences

Amye Warren-Leubecker and John Neil Bohannon III
Child Development
Vol. 55, No. 4 (Aug., 1984), pp. 1379-1385
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1130007
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1130007
Page Count: 7
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Intonation Patterns in Child-Directed Speech: Mother-Father Differences
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Abstract

16 mothers and 16 fathers were recorded in dyadic sessions with their children (8 5-years-olds, 8 2-year-olds; half boys, half girls) and with an adult. The noise-free questions and declaratives were analyzed separately by a real-time spectrum analyzer for fundamental frequency (pitch) and frequency range. Analysis revealed that mothers raised their pitch (from adult-addressed levels) equally for both ages of child listeners, but increased their ranges more when speaking to the younger children. Fathers increased their pitch and ranges even more than mothers, when addressing the younger children, but did not differentiate between 5-year-old and adult listeners. In adult-addressed speech, mothers used greater frequency ranges than fathers. These results suggest that both fundamental frequency and frequency range are significantly influenced by sex-role values. Furthermore, the hypothesis that mothers and fathers supply essentially redundant linguistic input to the language learning child was only partially supported.

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