Semester of Graduation

Spring 2019


Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Document Type



Understanding dialects and their effects on speech and language is integral to the field of speech-language pathology, as dialectal differences could potentially be misdiagnosed as speech or language disorders if these factors are not well-considered. The number and organization of the vowel system of one regional dialect of American English differs from those of another regional dialects. Therefore, understanding the effect of dialect on vowel productions in children can aid in the accurate evaluation of children from various dialectal backgrounds. The aims of the proposed study were to 1) determine the age at which young children develop acoustic markers of a given dialect and (2) provide the context in which the dialectal features are more prominent. Four three-year-olds whose parents lived in New Orleans, Louisiana, throughout their lives were included in the study. Target stimuli included 5 words for each of following vowels, /i, ɪ, ʊ, u, æ/. A single-word elicitation task and two sentence imitation tasks, one spoken by a speaker from New Orleans and the other from Iowa were used to elicit target sounds. Acoustic patterns of vowels produced by child participants were analyzed using vowel midpoint measured F1 and F2 and vowel duration. The results showed that not all children showed aspects of their dialectal patterns by age three and elicitation method had no considerable effect on vowel patterns of these children. These findings indicate that phonetic level refinement of vowels continue past the age of three and children’s vowel production is not affected by the context (imitative or spontaneous) in which the vowels are elicited.



Committee Chair

Chung, Hyunju