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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Protracted phonological development in Granada Spanish : a case study Klassen, Josiah


This case study examines single-word productions of “Emilio”, a Spanish-speaking boy from Granada with protracted phonological development (PPD), at ages 4;8 and 7;6. Emilio was the only child in a cohort of 15 to exhibit persisting difficulties at the second time point. At time 2, he showed differences in word-initial /r/, syllable-final /ɾ/ and one polysyllabic word, hipopótamo. In an acoustic comparison of /r/ data from children aged 4 to 9 years (Carballo & Mendoza, 2000), Emilio’s /r/ attempts had higher formant frequencies (F1 and F2), less distinct occlusions and apertures, and longer duration. The current study examines Emilio’s first dataset to determine phonological factors that may have predicted persisting PPD. The analysis adopts a nonlinear phonological framework (Bernhardt & Stemberger, 1998), and evaluates his data with respect to 16 expectations about Spanish acquisition derived from research literature. His 4-year-old phonological skills are compared with those of two 4-year-old peers who had similar whole word match (WWM) scores at the first data collection (WWM is the percent of words produced that match their targets; Bernhardt et al., 2015a). For Emilio, global measures including WWM were within the expected range for 4-year-olds with PPD. Three word structure measures, however, differentiated his phonology at age 4 from his two peers: overall word shape match (WSM), WSM of words with clusters, and word-initial cluster match (accuracy) in stressed syllables. (WSM is the percent of words produced with consonant-vowel [CV] sequences matching the adult target sequences; Bernhardt et al., 2015a.) Emilio also showed more difficulty with dorsal consonants, and words with alternating coronal-labial cross-vowel sequences than Sofía and Tomás. Those particular variables may be good candidates for predicting long-term difficulty. Other measures, including liquid and fricative matches and phonological processes, were not differentiators for these 4-year-olds. These results highlight the relevance of word structure for assessment and treatment of PPD, in alignment with Bernhardt et al. (2015a) and Schretlen (2013). The relevance of two ways of measuring WSM, with or without glides in the consonant category, are discussed. Further research is needed to confirm or disprove the usefulness of these predictors.

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