On the rhythm of infant- versus adult-directed speech in Australian English

Lee, Christopher S.. 2014. On the rhythm of infant- versus adult-directed speech in Australian English. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 136, 357. ISSN 0001-4966 [Article]

No full text available

Abstract or Description

The findings are reported of an investigation into rhythmic differences between infant-directed speech (IDS) and adult-directed speech (ADS) in a corpus of utterances from Australian English mothers speaking to their infants and to another adult. Given the importance of rhythmic cues to stress and word-segmentation in English, the investigation focused on the extent to which IDS makes such cues salient. Two methods of analysis were used: one focused on segmental durational properties, using a variety of durational measures; the other focused on the prominence of vocalic/sonorant segments, as determined by their duration, intensity, pitch, and spectral balance, using individual measures as well as composite measures of prominence derived from auditory-model analyses. There were few IDS/ADS differences/trends on the individual measures, though mean pitch and pitch variability were higher in IDS than ADS, while IDS vowels showed more negative spectral tilt. However, the model-based analyses suggested that differences in the prominence of vowels/sonorant segments were reduced in IDS, with further analysis suggesting that pitch contributed little to prominence. The reduction in prominence contrasts may be due to the importance of mood-regulation in speech to young infants, and may suggest that infants rely on segmental cues to stress and word-segmentation.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Additional Information:

The authors acknowledge the support of a grant from the University of Western Sydney International Research Initiatives Schemes.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



July 2014Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

21 Oct 2014 15:52

Last Modified:

03 Aug 2021 15:04

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



Edit Record Edit Record (login required)