This study investigates category goodness judgments of /r/ in adults and children with and without residual speech errors (RSEs) using natural speech stimuli. Thirty adults, 38 children with RSE (ages 7-16) and 35 age-matched typically developing (TD) children provided category goodness judgments on whole words, recorded from 27 child speakers, with /r/ in various phonetic environments. The salient acoustic property of /r/ - the lowered third formant (F3) - was normalized in two ways. A logistic mixed-effect model quantified the relationships between listeners' responses and the third formant frequency, vowel context and clinical group status. Goodness judgments from the adult group showed a statistically significant interaction with the F3 parameter when compared to both child groups (p < 0.001) using both normalization methods. The RSE group did not differ significantly from the TD group in judgments of /r/. All listeners were significantly more likely to judge /r/ as correct in a front-vowel context. Our results suggest that normalized /r/ F3 is a statistically significant predictor of category goodness judgments for both adults and children, but children do not appear to make adult-like judgments. Category goodness judgments do not have a clear relationship with /r/ production abilities in children with RSE. These findings may have implications for clinical activities that include category goodness judgments in natural speech, especially for recorded productions.
Keywords: Speech perception; speech acoustics; speech disorders.