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Acquisition of speech rhythm in first language
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Analysis of English rhythm in speech produced by children and adults revealed that speech rhythm becomes increasingly more stress-timed as language acquisition progresses. Children reach the adult-like target by 11 to 12 years. The employed speech elicitation paradigm ensured that the sentences produced by adults and children at different ages were comparable in terms of lexical content, segmental composition, and phonotactic complexity. Detected differences between child and adult rhythm and between rhythm in child speech at various ages cannot be attributed to acquisition of phonotactic language features or vocabulary, and indicate the development of language-specific phonetic timing in the course of acquisition.
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