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Home / Regular Issue / JTAS Vol. 30 (4) Dec. 2022 / JSSH-8318-2021


Acoustic Analysis of Voicing Contrast in Malay Word-Initial Plosives Produced by Mandarin-Speaking Children

Badrulzaman Abdul Hamid, Chong Jin Yee and Hasherah Mohd Ibrahim

Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science, Volume 30, Issue 4, December 2022


Keywords: Bilingual, Malay, Mandarin, plosives, voicing contrast, voice onset time

Published on: 15 December 2022

Voice Onset Time (VOT) is an acoustic measure widely used to measure the characteristics of plosives across various languages. This study investigates the acquisition of voicing contrast in Malay word-initial plosives produced by Mandarin-speaking children. Fifteen subjects between the ages of 3;00 to 7 and 11 were recruited. The children completed a picture-naming task, and the speech samples were audio-recorded and analyzed using PRAAT. Descriptive VOT values (ms) across ages were presented and compared to previous normative findings. Results revealed that children aged 3;00 produced only a short lag, while children aged 4;00 to 6;00 produced short lag-long lag contrast, which is not similar to the expected VOT pattern of Malay plosives. Additionally, with increasing age, children acquired adult-like VOT productions. The VOT distributions follow the developmental path proposed for languages with two-way contracts. This finding is the first VOT data on Malay word-initial plosives by Mandarin-speaking children. Maturity of motor development and coordination, as well as cross-linguistic exposure, influenced productions. Thus, further studies examining cross-linguistic influence, particularly controlling for the duration of exposure to L2 in multilingual language acquisition with a larger sample size, are warranted to validate the findings from this study.

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