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The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

Connected speech and word juncture in typical and atypical speech development

This research combines two techniques (detailed phonetic analysis and Conversation Analysis (CA)) to investigate three unique data sets of child speech, in order to advance our understanding of typical speech development and of children's speech difficulties. As children's communication skills develop in early childhood, a major milestone is when they begin to combine words into longer utterances. From this moment onwards they must learn not just how to pronounce single words, but how to produce strings of words smoothly, accurately and naturally. We know that adults produce words differently in connected speech from how they produce the same words in isolation. Indeed, these differences are a crucial part of what make us sound "normal". In contrast, we know very little about how children learn to produce connected speech, and how the demands of connected speech affect the intelligibility and naturalness of the speech of children with speech difficulties.

This research will investigate speech behaviours at word boundaries in the speech of children with typical and atypical speech development, and will explore how these behaviours are situated in longer contexts in real conversation. Insights from the research should contribute to the development of new therapy approaches for children with speech difficulties.