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Background: Thai language is a tonal language which has five tones: low, mid, high, falling and rising. Previous studies have examined the development of Thai tone expression in a small sample size. The purpose of this study is to investigate tone expression in a group of 480 typicallydeveloping boys and girls from different regions of Thailand in order to examine trends in the acquisition of tone expression including the possibility of developmental differences associated with gender and geographic area.
Method: Participants were 480 children from 2 years to 5 years 11 months of age, divided into four age groups (2 - 2;11, 3 - 3;11, 4 - 4;11 and 5 - 5;11). Tone expression was investigated with the use of a picturenaming task.
Results: The results demonstrate a non significant difference between genders and geographic area at p value > .05 and the tone expression of age level at 2 - 2.11 significantly related with age level at 4 - 4.11 and 5 - 5.11 and age level at 3 - 3.11 significantly related with age level at 5 - 5.11. This result found an increasing of percent of correctly tone expression with increasing chronological age.
Conclusions: There was no significant effect of gender and geographic area on tone expression accuracy. There was a significant difference in tone expression accuracy between 2 - 2.11 and 4 - 4.11 and 5 - 5.11 and 3 - 3.11 significant related with age level at 5 - 5.11.
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