Phrasing in prelinguistic vocalizations


Phrasing is a universal characteristic of human communication, and the present investigation explored its developmental roots in nonvegetative, prelinguistic vocalizations. Adult judges identified a hierarchical arrangement of syllables embedded within utterances and utterances embedded within prelinguistic phrases in the vocalizations of infants. Prelinguistic phrases were characterized by systematic lengthening of phrase final syllables, temporal patterning, and stable durations across development that were similar to those of some cross‐culturally optimal rhythmic units from other domains. Analyses of vocalizations of infants with Down syndrome indicated similar internal structure of prelinguistic phrases to those of typically developing infants, but with longer durations. These findings suggest that relative durational characteristics of prelinguistic phrasing are stable features of early vocal behavior, although the absolute durational characteristics of prelinguistic phrases can be impacted by a complex and severe disorder such as Down syndrome. © 1995 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Copyright © 1995 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Publication Title

Developmental Psychobiology