How is vowel production in Italian affected by geminate consonants and stress patterns?

Lucia Colombo, Michela Infanti, Joanne Arciuli

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Italian vowels have a shorter duration before a geminate than before a singleton consonant, but a longer duration in syllables carrying stress. We asked whether children can produce the differentiation in vowel duration in singleton/geminate contexts reported for adults and whether their production changes depending on position of primary stress. Italian children (three-to-six-year-olds) and adults performed a nonword repetition. Each nonword appeared in four contexts, with the stressed/unstressed vowel preceding/following the singleton/geminate: /pa'paso/, /pap'paso/, 'papaso/, /'pappaso/. Acoustic analyses on the duration of the vowel preceding (V1) and following (V2) the medial consonant showed a type of consonant by age group interaction: the difference in vowel duration between children and adults was greater for geminate than singleton contexts, and was greater when the vowel carried stress. When V1 carried stress, its duration was shorter in the geminate than in the singleton in adults and older children, not in younger children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-136
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Child Language
Issue number1
Early online date3 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • acoustic characteristics of vowel production
  • geminates
  • language acquisition


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