Beginning at the age of about 14 months, eight children who lived in a rhotic dialect region of the United States were recorded approximately every 2 months interacting with their parents. All were recorded until at least the age of 26 months, and some until the age of 31 months. Acoustic analyses of speech samples indicated that these young children acquired [ɹ] production ability at different ages for [ɹ]’s in different syllable positions. The children, as a group, had started to produce postvocalic and syllabic [ɹ] in an adult-like manner by the end of the recording sessions, but were not yet showing evidence of having acquired prevocalic [ɹ]. Articulatory limitations of young children are posited as a cause for the difference in development of [ɹ] according to syllable position. Specifically, it is speculated that adult-like prevocalic [ɹ] production requires two lingual constrictions: one in the mouth, and the other in the pharynx, while postvocalic and syllabic [ɹ] requires only one oral constriction. Two lingual constrictions could be difficult for young children to produce.

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