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ERIC Number: ED524416
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 130
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1244-4613-4
Phonological Acquisition in Simultaneous Bilingual Mandarin-English Preschoolers
Liu-Shea, May
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, New York University
Purpose: Significant challenges face speech-language pathologists when children raised in bilingual environments are referred for speech-language evaluations. The situation is compounded for bilingual Mandarin-English children because no research-based data is available to date. This study is a preliminary examination of phonological acquisition in simultaneous bilingual preschoolers exposed to Mandarin and English. Method: Ten participants (3 girls and 7 boys) between the ages of 2;6 and 3;6 (mean 3;2, SD = 2 months) were recruited from a dual-language, English-Mandarin preschool. All children were typically-developing and exposed to both languages since birth. Naturalistic speech samples were collected in monolingual contexts by native-language speakers. Speech samples were independently transcribed and were the basis for describing participants' phonetic inventories and application of phonological processes. Structured tasks elicited productions of word-initial stops in each language for voice-onset time analysis. Language dominance was determined by a cross-linguistic comparison of semantic development. Results: Language-specific elements were found in addition to a shared set of phonological characteristics. Phonetic inventories contained a collective set of segments and those specific to English (e.g., interdental fricatives) and Mandarin (i.e., retroflex, alveolo-palatal, and alveolar fricatives and affricates). Voice-onset times distinguished voicing and aspiration contrasts, although productions were significantly longer than the adult models and normative values in both languages. Phonological process analysis revealed a shared set of processes applied between languages as well as specific patterns maintained within languages. Final consonant deletion, place change, and stopping of fricatives were predominantly found in English samples while fewer than four participants exhibited these processes in Mandarin. Although backing fricatives and deletion of initial consonants are described in the literature as developmental processes for monolingual Mandarin children, each process was exhibited by fewer than four participants. Analysis of language dominance categorized seven participants as Mandarin-dominant, one English-dominant, and two balanced. The role of English as society's majority language did not appear to affect phonological acquisition in this group of young participants. Conclusions: Young simultaneous bilinguals demonstrate differentiated phonological systems that pattern similarly with monolingual peers in each language. Differentiated systems reflect typical phonological development, while under-differentiation in a child acquiring more than one language may be suggestive of phonological disorder. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A