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Title: Speech sound acquisition and phonological error patterns in child speakers of Syrian Arabic : a normative study
Author: Owaida, Husen
ISNI:       0000 0004 5916 3293
Awarding Body: City University London
Current Institution: City, University of London
Date of Award: 2015
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The lack of norms for speech sound acquisition and phonological error patterns in the Syrian variety of Arabic is one of the challenging aspects of diagnosing and treating speech disorders in speakers of this language. Although there are normative data which speech language therapists could use to assess the phonological skills of Syrian children, these are based on data standardized on children speaking other varieties of Arabic, such as Jordanian. This may lead to incorrect diagnosis and inappropriate treatment. In order to address this problem, a detailed study of Syrian Arabic was carried out for this thesis. This study was carried out to provide reliable normative data for speech sound acquisition and phonological error patterns in Syrian children between the ages of 2:6 and 6:5. One hundred and sixty typically developing Syrian children were recruited from Damascus to participate in this cross-sectional study. The results indicate that acquisition of the vowels in Syrian Arabic was almost complete by the age of 3. However, some errors persisted at this age and these mainly related to the production of diphthongs. The two diphthongs which were studied did not appear in the children’s speech samples until the age of 5:0-5:5, but they did not reach the acquisition criterion. For the consonants, the results suggest that there is a gradual development in their correct production: correct production started at 71.3% at the age of 2:6-3:0 and increased with age to 94.3% in children aged 6:0-6:5. All the consonants in Syrian Arabic were acquired by age 6:5, except for the affricate /ʒ/. The order of consonant acquisition in terms of sound class was: median approximants > nasals > plosives > the lateral approximant /l/ > all fricatives except/ʒ/ > the trill. The findings also showed that the order of speech sound acquisition in Syrian children is very similar to that in children from other language backgrounds. The results for consonant acquisition also indicated that 11 consonants are acquired between the ages of 2:6-4:0. These early-acquired consonants are / b, f, j, m, n, l, t, d, h, ʔ, w, h /. They include plosives, nasals, the lateral and a few fricatives. One of these fricatives has an anterior place of articulation while three are produced in the posterior portion of the oral cavity, i.e. /h, ʔ, ʕ/. Seven consonants were acquired between the ages of 4:0 and 5:0. These were /x, s, z , ʕ, tˁ, dˁ, k/. Most of which are fricatives and emphatics. The late-acquired consonants are /ʃ, r, sˁ, ɣ/ which are acquired between the ages of 5:0 and 6:5. There were clear differences in the percentage of correctly produced consonants indifferent word positions. In general, word-final consonants were produced correctly slightly more often than those in initial and medial positions. This was true for all agegroups. This difference was significant between initial and final position, and between medial and final positions; however, no significant difference was found between initial and medial positions. As far as the phonological error patterns (all phonological error patterns whatever their percentage big or small) are concerned this study identified a total of 11 phonological error patterns in Syrian children. These errors were: r-deviation, fronting, stridency deletion, de-emphasis, weak syllable deletion, stopping, backing, glottalization, devoicing and assimilation. There was also one dialectal error pattern called epenthesis, in which a vowel is inserted between consonants in order to simplify their pronunciation. Epenthesis is singled out from phonological error patterns that while it is considered a phonological error pattern in some languages, in Syria it is a dialectal error appears in normal speech and as such not consider phonological error pattern. Using a developmental criterion to define the phonological error patterns used by Syrian children, the study revealed that there are 9 typical phonological errors. These errors are: r-deviation, fronting, stridency deletion, de-emphasis, weak syllable deletion, consonant deletion, backing, glottalization, and devoicing. The results of this study showed that Syrian children no longer produce developmental errors by the age of 5:5.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: P Philology. Linguistics