Acquisition and Development of Syllabic Prominence in German Speaking Style

Britta Lintfert, University of Stuttgart
Bernd Möbius, University of Bonn

An investigation of the acoustic correlates of word stress in infant polysyllabic vocalization was carried out on the basis of data from 6 German-learning infants between 7 and 36 months of age in order to describe the development of word stress in German. The data were analyzed with respect to duration, intensity, fundamental frequency (F0), as well as vowel quality parameters describing the time and degree of opening of the glottis, the slope of the spectrum and glottal leakage. Even with beginning of babbling children are able to produce different stress patterns. However, the implementation and usage of the parameters that contribute to marking word stress appear to be inconsistent. Each measurable acoustic parameter for marking word stress can be observed, and with advancing age the use of these parameters is very variable and depends on the individual child. The most important cue to mark different stress patterns is to learn to reduce the acoustic parameters for the production of unstressed.