Voice onset time of voiceless bilabial and velar stops in 3-year-old bilingual children and their age-matched monolingual peers

Leah Fabiano-Smith, Ferenc Bunta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations


This study investigates aspects of voice onset time (VOT) of voiceless bilabial and velar stops in monolingual and bilingual children. VOT poses a special challenge for bilingual Spanish- and English-speaking children because although this VOT distinction exists in both languages, the values differ for the same contrast across Spanish and English. Twenty-four 3-year-olds participated in this study (8 bilingual SpanishEnglish, 8 monolingual Spanish and 8 monolingual English). The VOT productions of /p/and /k/in syllable-initial stressed singleton position were compared across participants. Non-parametric statistical analyses were performed to examine differences (1) between monolinguals and bilinguals and (2) between English and Spanish. The main findings of the study were that monolingual and bilingual children generally differed on VOT in English, but not in Spanish. No statistically significant differences were found between the Spanish and the English VOT of the bilingual children, but the VOT values did differ significantly for monolingual Spanish- versus monolingual English-speaking participants. Our findings were interpreted in terms of Flege's Speech Learning Model, finding possible evidence for equivalence classification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-163
Number of pages16
JournalClinical Linguistics and Phonetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012



  • Bilingual SpanishEnglish
  • VOT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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