Shari R. Baum
School of Commun. Sci. & Disord., McGill Univ., 1266 Pine Ave. W., Montreal, PQ H3G 1A8, Canada
William F. Katz
Univ. of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, TX
There has been much recent interest in the manner in which children develop mature speech production capabilities. Investigations of both normal speech acquisition and developmental speech production impairments have contributed to our current knowledge base. A consistent finding is that young children's speech is highly variable, both in its temporal and spectral attributes, and that this variability diminishes gradually with age. However, the exact manner in which articulatory precision emerges (or fails to emerge in speech disorders) continues to be the subject of debate. For example, some research on anticipatory coarticulation suggests a developmental progression from syllable- to segment-based timing strategies while other research suggests the opposite. Similarly, some studies of compensatory articulation show comparable degrees of motor equivalence in young children and adults, while others show that this aspect of motor control emerges gradually with maturation. This presentation will review key experiments (primarily based on acoustic analyses), consider potential explanations for the controversial data, and discuss methodological alternatives that may assist in the resolution of outstanding questions. Recent evidence indicates that specific motor patterns of different articulators will play a major role.