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Title: Phonological acquisition in three languages : a cross-sectional study in English, Mandarin and Malay
Author: Woan, Lim Hui
ISNI:       0000 0004 2694 048X
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2010
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The complex multiracial/multilingual situation of Malaysia poses challenges for local professionals, such as speech and language therapists, who work with children. The present cross-sectional study investigated ethnic Chinese children's simultaneous phonological acquisition of English, Mandarin and Malay, which are the three major local languages for the Malaysian Chinese population. The aims were to provide preliminary normative data on phonological acquisition for this population, as well as to investigate processes underlying multilingual phonological acquisition. Sixty-four pre-school children aged between 2;06-4;05 were recruited. A single-word naming test, a word consistency production subtest and an intonation imitation sub-test were devised for each of the three languages. Particular attention was paid to the characteristics of the local adult speech varieties as the benchmark for assessing and analyzing the children's responses on the tests. This sociolinguistic dimension has often been neglected in previous research with similar populations, where non-local, e.g. "standard" adult varieties have been taken to be the language model for the children being studied. The children's phonological acquisition was analysed in term of consonants, vowels, syllable structures, word production consistency, intonation and tones (Mandarin only). Overall, significant developmental trends were evident for all three languages. Most phonological components under study were acquired by 4;00-4;05. Similar phonological milestones were achieved as those reported in the literature for monolingual and bilingual peers acquiring the same languages, though some qualitative and quantitative differences were observed. Overall, the patterns of phonological development that were identified reflect the interaction of common cross-linguistic tendencies with the specific characteristics of the three ambient languages. As well as having clinical implications, the present findings contribute to the development of theory and models for multilingual phonological acquisition. The reliability and validity of the test battery indicate that it will prove a valuable tool for speech and language therapy practice and for future research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available