Speech Rates of American English- and New Zealand English-speaking children
Adult speakers of New Zealand English demonstrate faster speaking rates than adult speakers of Australian, American, or British English. Little, however, is known about comparability of speaking rates in children who speak different varieties of English. This study begins to address this need through examining articulation rate and overall speaking rate data for ten New Zealand English-speaking children (aged 3;1 – 3;5 years) and ten American English-speaking children (aged 2;11 – 3;5 years). The participants had typically developing speech and language skills and the data were collected from conversational language samples where the child was engaged in a play activity with a speech pathologist or parent. Both groups demonstrated significantly faster articulation rates compared to overall speaking rates. In addition, utterance length was significantly correlated with both speaking rate and articulation rate. Group differences were evident. Contrary to previous results reported for adults, the New Zealand children demonstrated slower overall speaking rates and slower articulation rates than the American children. Results of a vowel analysis indicated a higher percentage of lax vowel production and lower percentage of tense vowel production among the American children compared to New Zealand children, indicating that vowel differences were a contributing factor to the observed differences in speech rates. The clinical applicability of the present data is discussed.