Research Project - Preadolescent Co-articulation

“Lingual coarticulation in preadolescents and adults: an ultrasound study”

This research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (grant number RES-000-22-4075). The project started in October 2010, and lasted for one year. The Principal Investigator was Dr Natalia Zharkova, and the Co-Investigators were Dr Nigel Hewlett and Dr Robin Lickley.


The research investigated speech motor skills maturation, by comparing coarticulatory properties of speech in adults and children aged 10-12 years old. 

The term "coarticulation" refers to the articulatory overlap of neighbouring sounds in speech. For example, the difference between two realisations of the consonant /s/, in the words "say" and "sew", arises from the influence of the following vowel.

Studying development of coarticulation contributes to understanding the emergence of the system of organised motor skills required for a given language.

Research objectives

  • to record a database of synchronised ultrasound and acoustic data of preadolescent and adult speech
  • to determine whether any differences between consonants in vowel-on-consonant coarticulation increase with age
  • to determine how within-speaker variability in coarticulation changes from preadolescence to adulthood
  • to determine how the temporal dynamics of coarticulation change with age

For any queries, please contact Dr Natalia Zharkova: