Title page for ETD etd-5398-13543

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Strunk, Pia Christina Jr.
Author's Email Address pstrunk@vt.edu
URN etd-5398-13543
Title Changes in the Content and Prosody of Mothers' Speech to Infants Across the First Postnatal Year
Degree master of science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Cooper, Robin K. Panneton Committee Chair
Bell, Martha Ann Committee Member
Finney, Jack W. Committee Member
  • Infant
  • Speech Perception
  • Language Content
  • Maternal
Date of Defense 1997-12-18
Availability unrestricted
The purpose of this research project was to examine the linguistic and prosodic content of infant-directed speech to infants, and to explore the relationship that exists between the prosodic features and the content of this speech, and how this relationship changes over the first eight months after birth. Analyses were conducted on maternal infant-directed speech directed to infants across three age groups: 1, 4, and 8-month olds. Speech samples were taken from 75 mothers (n = 25 per group) and both coded for content and analyzed for pitch (Fo) characteristics. Linguistic analysis indicated overall significantly more Informational speech that either Affective or Contentless speech directed to infants in all three age groups. In addition, significant differences were found within and between Affective and Contentless speech, but these effects were also mediated by age. Significant differences were also found in the acoustic features of maternal infant-directed speech, mediated by both type of speech and age. Overall, these results suggest that maternal infant-directed speech varies in both linguistic content and prosodic features, and that the variation of these prosodic features is mediated by both the type of speech used and the age of the infant.
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