Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Kate Harrigan

Committee Members

Anya Hogoboom

Sadhwi Srinivas

Katherine Barko-Alva


While the main indicator for a voiced obstruent is internal voicing, there are several other cues that differ between voiced obstruents and their voiceless counterparts. These subphonemic cues do not inherently change meaning of a word like internal voicing but aid in differentiation. One of such cues for voicing of obstruents is lengthening of the preceding vowel. Previously, 3- 5-year-old children have shown the ability to differentiate English words with images based only on pre-obstruent vowel length. However, during efforts to investigate a possible difference in ability in the pre-obstruent versus a neutral condition, they have not shown accuracy when the words are not known and not associated with different images. In order to observe a possible difference in the neutral condition, the current experiment reintroduces image association to emphasize vowel length as phonemic. Due to vowel length's subphonemic properties in English, it seems possible that children (like adults) have increased sensitivity in the pre-obstruent condition. However, if this differentiated sensitivity exists, it will need to be investigated through other measures to attempt to increase sensitivity in children as image-association at least in this context was ineffective at raising accuracy above chance. Given that adults and children are performing differently, it is evident that there is some aspect to children’s perceptual development that is not complete but we do not yet know more specifically what that is.

On-Campus Access Only