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Title: The intonation of mothers and children in early speech
Author: Marwick, Helen Margaret
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1987
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This study set out to compare the use of intonation by mothers and their young children. The question of ways in which a mother might influence the development of her child's intonation is considered. Detailed analysis of maternal intonation enables an explanation to be offered of the diverse conclusions in the literature about how children use intonation in early speech. Two mother-child pairs were studied in free-play, over a combined age range of 15-28 months. Intonation forms were related to the functions of utterances for both mother and child and the mother's responses to her child's intonation forms were studied. An utterance function category system and an intonation form category system were devised to carry out the analyses. The mother's intonation was not found to be a constant and differentiated indicator of utterance function. It varied widely within functions though displaying a certain specificity of form use that was common to both mothers. The intonation of the children was found to closely match the mothers in use of form and it varied in the same manner in relation to utterance function. There was much similarity between the two children. Mothers did not respond to the intonation of the child as if it were being used as a simple differentiator of utterance function. The systematic variability of the intonation was such that analysis of the influence of the mother's use on that of the child was made difficult. Conversely, it was possible to demonstrate that each of the children was at least partly responsible for his or her organisation of intonation, the two children being very alike in this respect. It is suggested that the children's development of intonation can be seen to reflect both an innately organised communicative system and the influence of the intonation environment provided by the mother's speech. The results of this study do not support any one of the diverse conclusions previously reported on the young child's use of intonation, but provide an explanation of most. The explanation is found not in the influence of individual differences in the mother's intonation,but in the way in which the mothers use intonation in speech, revealing a previously unspecified perspective against which to consider the child's intonation. Intonation is seen to be but one element in an integrated expressive code that both mother and child are competent to use.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available