Investigating variability in child's speech (VariCS)

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Background: Learning to speak requires mastering the intricate interplay of the speech production mechanisms of respiration, phonation, resonance, and articulation. Children vary considerably in how quickly they master this process. This project aims to investigate variability ranges in typical child speech of primary-school aged children, and how variability patterns evolve in this group over time. We aim to identify to what extent i) patterns reflect specific developmental trajectories of speech; and ii) speech measures in one subsystem predict performance in other subsystems. Comprehensive understanding of variability in typical speech development and its change over time will allow identification and interpretation of developmental patterns that exceed typical ranges.

Methods: Speech data will be collected from 500 children in central Scotland aged 5 to 11 every 6 months over 1.5 years. The data will be collected through a designed iPad app, and will include connected speech from a story retell, picture description, and sentence repetition. This will be complemented by a single word picture naming task, and non-speech tasks including sound prolongation and DDK. Acoustic measures pertaining to all four speech subsystems that are commonly used in the literature to differentiate between typical and atypical speech such as articulation rate and formant frequencies will be extracted from the recordings.

Results and conclusions: The outcomes of the project will contribute the field’s understanding of variability in typical child speech development and elucidate the potential link between different subsystems measures. The project will also give rise to i) an open access archive of child speech recordings, and ii) a reference database for speech and language therapists to aid in diagnosis and treatment of children’s speech and voice disorders available through a look-up facility on the project website. Additionally, the app developed for data collection offers opportunities for future research on aspects of child speech.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2023
Event19th Biennial Conference of the International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association - Unipark Nonntal, Salzburg, Austria
Duration: 4 Jul 20237 Jul 2023


Conference19th Biennial Conference of the International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association
Abbreviated titleICPLA
Internet address


  • child speech
  • primary school children
  • variability
  • Scotland
  • speech data


Dive into the research topics of 'Investigating variability in child's speech (VariCS)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this