9th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Brisbane, Australia
September 22-26, 2008

Tone Hyperarticulation in Cantonese Infant-Directed Speech

Nan Xu, Denis Burnham

University of Western Sydney, Australia

There is extensive evidence for vowel hyperarticulation in infant-directed speech (IDS) [1, 2, 3], but little is known about lexical tones in tonal IDS. Here, longitudinal recordings of Cantonese IDS revealed that tones, like vowels, are hyperarticulated. Implications of this finding for infant linguistic development are discussed.


  1. Liu, H.-M., Kuhl, P. K., & Tsao, F.-, M. (2003). An association between mothers' speech clarity and infants' speech discrimination skills. Dev. Sci., 6(3), F1-F10.
  2. Kuhl, P. K., et al. (1997). Cross-language analysis of phonetic units in language addressed to infants. Science, 277, 684-686.
  3. Burnham, D., Kitamura, C., & Vollmer-Conna, U. (2002). What's new, pussycat? On talking to babies and animals. Science, 296, 1435.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Xu, Nan / Burnham, Denis (2008): "Tone hyperarticulation in Cantonese infant-directed speech", In INTERSPEECH-2008, 624.