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J Acoust Soc Am. 2010 May;127(5):3177-88. doi: 10.1121/1.3377080.

Children's recognition of American English consonants in noise.

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Boys Town National Research Hospital, 555 North 30th Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68131, USA.


In contrast to the availability of consonant confusion studies with adults, to date, no investigators have compared children's consonant confusion patterns in noise to those of adults in a single study. To examine whether children's error patterns are similar to those of adults, three groups of children (24 each in 4-5, 6-7, and 8-9 yrs. old) and 24 adult native speakers of American English (AE) performed a recognition task for 15 AE consonants in /ɑ/-consonant-/ɑ/ nonsense syllables presented in a background of speech-shaped noise. Three signal-to-noise ratios (SNR: 0, +5, and +10 dB) were used. Although the performance improved as a function of age, the overall consonant recognition accuracy as a function of SNR improved at a similar rate for all groups. Detailed analyses using phonetic features (manner, place, and voicing) revealed that stop consonants were the most problematic for all groups. In addition, for the younger children, front consonants presented in the 0 dB SNR condition were more error prone than others. These results suggested that children's use of phonetic cues do not develop at the same rate for all phonetic features.

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