As an initial step for the clinical application of landmark-based acoustic analysis in child Mandarin, the study quantified the developmental trajectories of consonants produced by four-to-seven-year-old children who acquired Taiwanese Mandarin as their first language. The results from a total of 80 children (20 in each age group, with gender balanced) indicated that younger age groups produced more +b
landmark features than seven-year-olds did, showing that the development of obstruents was not completed by the age of six. A multiple regression showed that the participants’ speech intelligibility scores could be predicted by landmark features. Additionally, the +b
landmark feature demonstrated the strongest net effect on speech intelligibility scores. The findings indicated that: (a) the landmark feature +b
was an essential indicator of speech development in child Mandarin and; (b) the consonantal development in child Mandarin could be predicted by the physiological complexity of the articulatory gestures. Future studies focusing on a wider range of population (e.g., typically developing adults, aging and other clinical groups) with different language backgrounds are encouraged to apply landmark-based acoustic analysis to trace the linguistic development of a particular group.
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