Children's perception of conversational and clear American-English vowels in noise

Leone, Dorothy; Levy, Erika S.

Purpose: Much of a child’s day is spent listening to speech in the presence of background noise. Although accurate vowel perception is important for listeners’ accurate speech perception and comprehension, little is known about children’s vowel perception in noise. “Clear speech” is a speech style frequently used by talkers in the presence of noise. This study investigated children’s identification of vowels in nonsense words in noise and examined whether adults’ use of clear speech would result in the children’s more accurate vowel identification.

Method: Two female American-English (AE) speaking adults were recorded producing the nonsense word /gəbVpə/ with AE vowels /ɛ-æ-ɑ-ʌ/ in phrases in conversational and clear speech. These utterances were presented to 15 AE-speaking children (ages 5.0-8.5) at a signal-to-noise ratio of -6 dB. The children repeated the utterances.

Results: Clear speech vowels were repeated significantly more accurately (87%) than conversational speech vowels (59%), suggesting that clear speech aids children’s vowel identification. Children repeated one talker’s vowels more accurately than the other’s, and front vowels more accurately than central and back vowels.

Conclusions: The findings support the use of clear speech for enhancing adult-to-child communication in AE in noisy environments.


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Also Published In

Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

More About This Work

Academic Units
Communication Sciences and Disorders
Published Here
July 1, 2020