Typical Development of Speech in Spanish in Comparison

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1 Typical Development of Speech in Spanish in Comparison to English Bilinguistics Inc. This course is offered by Bilinguistics, an ASHA Approved CE Provider Content Area: Basic Communication Processes Instructional Level: Introductory Continuing Education Units:.1 Objectives: Participants will be able to demonstrate knowledge in and identify: Basic acquisition of speech sounds at the linguistic level Speech patterns in English and Spanish that are shared or are different Phonological processes of Spanish and English Differences between Spanish and English in the acquisition and use of vowels Differences between Spanish and English in the acquisition and use of consonants Differences in syllable type employed by both languages 1

2 Introduction The population of Spanish speakers worldwide is approximately 322 million (Encarta, 2004). In the United States alone, 10% (35 million) of the population is Hispanic and this number is projected to double by 2030 (United States Census, 2000). These demographic changes have increased the possibility that an interventionist or researcher will come into contact with Spanish and Spanish-speaking cultures. This becomes problematic when most speech-language pathologists are not Spanish speakers, [and] may not be sufficiently aware of the important phonological differences [of] Spanish (Goldstein & Iglesias, 82; 1996). The international and domestic research communities have responded with a plethora of information concerning Spanish developmental tendencies. The purpose of this paper is to present this data to assist both monolingual and Spanish-speaking bilingual speech-language pathologists in identifying the differences between Spanish and English speech acquisition. This information is important in differentiating disordered speech from and typical speech acquisition processes. The content of this paper has been organized to be easily accessible for both Spanish speakers and non-spanish speakers alike. As most professionals are most familiar with typical development of speech in English, this paper presents Spanish speech development as compared to English. The information is also divided into basic speech topics (phonology, vowels, consonants, and syllable structure) in order to be easily digested. Phonology The phonologies of English and Spanish have many similarities (Quilis, 1999). Both utilize the same alphabet while the Spanish sound system is more concise. Spanish 2

3 has 18 consonant phonemes compared to 26 in English (Goldstein & Iglesias, 1996). These totals do not include allophonic or dialectal variations within either language. Spanish lacks the glottal / /, the voiced affricate /ʤ/ (judge), the voiced /ð/ and unvoiced /θ/ (thigh, thy), the voiced /ž/ and unvoiced /ʃ/ (azure, shy), the /z/, the /ŋ/ (sing), and the flap /ɾ/ (as in butter)(quilis, 1999). English, on the other hand, does not employ the trilled /rr/ or the /ɲ/of Spanish (Quilis, 1999). The following chart of Spanish phonemes illustrates the Spanish sound system that will be discussed in the subsequent sections. Table 1: Spanish Phonemes Note: From Maez (1985). Spanish Consonants The results of numerous studies have consistently indicated that in Spanish nearly all phonemes are emerging by the end of four years of age (Acevedo, 1993; Jimenez, 1987; Anderson & Smith, 1987; Goldstein & Washington, 2001). In one example, Acevedo (1993) found that Mexican-American children acquire all phonemes by age four except /j/,/l/,/ƫƒ/, & /s/. Mann & Hodson (1994) cite Terroro s study (1979) of Venezuelan children where he found that after four, only /j/,/l/,/ƫƒ/,/s/,/r/, & /ɲ/ were not mastered. 3

4 The differences regarding outlying phonemes could be the result of differences between the children studied (Anderson & Smith, 1987), dialectal differences between the populations (Goldstein & Iglesias, 1996), or variations in the studies themselves (Acevedo, 1993; Jimenez, 1987). Universally, stop consonants were acquired first, followed by nasals, then fricatives and affricates, and liquids were the last sounds to appear (Goldstein & Washington, 2001). When speaking strictly of sound class, order of acquisition Table 2: Age of Acquisition of Phonemes in Spanish. Note: From Bedore (1999). 4

5 in Spanish resembles the progression of sound acquisition per class in English. This of course, is apart from the specific sounds that each language considers important. Spanish Vowels The Spanish vowel space is like most Latin languages, relying on five vowels /a/,/e/,/i/,/o/and /u/. These vowels are represented in the English sound system. However, English also employs an additional eight vowels on average (13 total). A Spanish-speaker trying to speak English would be expected to create additional vowel sounds that are not native to her. On the contrary, an English-speaker would be expected to compress her speech to rely on less than half of the normal number of vowels used. Table 3: English Versus Spanish Vowel System Diphthongs are as prevalent in Spanish as they are in English. Like English, a Spanish diphthong is normally the combination of one hard vowel (/a/,/o/,/u/) and one 5

6 weak vowel (/i/,/e/). The combination of two weak vowels also exists but is used less frequently (Quilis, 1999). Diphthongs exist in both languages. Therefore, a lack of or excessive use of diphthongs would be seen as atypical in either language when taken as a whole. Table 4: Examples of English and Spanish Diphthongs English Spanish [ai] price [ja] ia, lla, ya: viaje (voyage) [ei] face [j ] ie, lle, ye: pie (foot) [ I] choice [j ] io, llo, yo: cambio (change) [ə ] goat [wa] ua: agua (water) [a ] mouth [w ] ue: puedo (I can) [w ] uo: antiguo (ancient) Syllable Structure in Spanish Defining normal phonological acquisition for Spanish speakers is difficult due to the diversity of the populations that are often studied (Goldstein & Washington, 2001). In English, dialectal variations are generally defined by vowel differences (Goldstein & Iglesias, 1996). Contrarily, Spanish dialectal changes are marked by shifts in consonantal classes such as fricatives, liquids, glides, and nasals (Goldstein & Iglesias, 1996). Nevertheless, some similar trends can be generalized throughout. The syllable structures in Spanish are highly dominated by CV sequences (Goldstein & Cintron, 1985). This is a cross-linguistic phenomenon in babbling (MacNeilage, Davis, Kinney, & Matyear, 2000), but Spanish retains the CV dominated syllable type in the language (Quilis, 1999). Isolated vowels are second most regular 6

7 (18%) and syllables that end with consonants (CVC, VC, CCVC) are the least common (Goldstein & Cintron, 1985). Table 5: Percentage Use of Syllable Types and Word Length. Note: From Goldstein & Cintron (2001). Syllable Complexity in Spanish The average length of words in any language is directly related to syllable structure. When a language (such as Spanish) does not support final consonants there are automatically a limited number of one-syllable words. The number of one-syllable words would be restricted to the finite combination of C+V (Quilis, 1999). This is clearly evident in Spanish. Goldstein and Cintron (2001) used syllable count to determine word length of Spanish-speaking children and noted that 83% of the words created were twosyllables (See preceding chart). Phonological Processes Shared by English and Spanish Phonological processes are speech pattern regularities occurring during the normal course of development (Goldstein, 1999). Spanish and English share similarities in how phonological processes present in early acquisition (Mann & Hodson, 1994). In both languages, phonological processes are present in early speech productions and 7

8 decrease in frequency as the child gets older (Anderson & Smith, 1987). The most common processes that are shared between languages are cluster reduction, pre- and postvocalic singleton omission, unstressed syllable deletion, and glottalization of velars (Mann & Hodson, 1994). Although some differences in the frequency of each process were found (Mann & Hodson, 1994), the use of the processes tended to decrease as the child approached five years (Maez, 1985). Phonological processes in Spanish by age are illustrated below. Table 6: Spanish Phonological Processes Note: From Goldstein (1999). Differences in Phonological Processes between English and Spanish While both Spanish and English share the presence of phonological processes, differences exist in how they are employed (Goldstein & Cintron, 2001). Substitutions in English occur most often when liquids (/l/,/r/) are replaced by glides (/j/,/w/) (Goldstein & Cintron, 2001). In Spanish however, /r/ is more commonly replaced by /l/ (Anderson 8

9 & Smith, 1987). Cluster reduction in English normally retains the first consonant of the cluster (pow for plow). Spanish in contrast deletes the first consonant (lojo for flojo) (Goldstein & Cintron, 2001). An understanding of typical development is necessary in order to identify a disordered population (Mann & Hodson, 1994). While English and Spanish share many phonological tendencies (Goldstein & Iglesias, 1996), there are enough phonological differences to warrant an independent study of a Spanish-speaking child s processes in both languages. Accounting for patterns specific to Spanish ensures that phonological differences reflecting the individual s limited proficiency in English are not viewed as disorders. Summary The Spanish-speaking population in the United States has been steadily increasing and is projected to continue increasing for the foreseeable future. Speech-language pathologists in any part of the United States can expect to come into contact with Spanish speakers. While it would not be expected for a professional to speak or provide services in another language, knowledge of such a vastly popular language can only help in one s ability to identify and treat disorders. Spanish and English are distinctly different languages but they share many features and patterns of speech acquisition. The phonology of both languages is similar with English possessing a larger consonant repertoire (26 versus 18 sounds) (Goldstein & Iglesias, 1996). Equally so, English also employs more vowels (13 versus 5 vowels) (Quilis, 1999). Universally, stop consonants are acquired first, followed by nasals, then fricatives and affricates, and liquids were the last sounds to appear (Goldstein & 9

10 Washington, 2001). The English use of a closed syllable structure (i.e. final consonants) allows for more one syllable words (Goldstein & Cintron, 1985). And finally, phonological processes are different in each language, but occur at relatively the same developmental age (Goldstein & Cintron, 2001). The next three appendices can be reproduced to use in assessing the sounds that a child is making in comparison to what is expected for his or her age. The first is an example as to how to fill out the chart. The following two charts are specific to the differences in sound acquisition in Spanish and English. Review these charts and then take part in the informal activity to familiarize yourself with the differences between English and Spanish acquisition. 10

11 Appendix A 11

12 Appendix B English Developmental Articulation Norms AGES m h n b w p k g d y t f v -ing r l s ch sh j /r/ blends /s/ blends z th (the) th(with) /l/ blends Based on: Massachusetts Speech and Hearing Association Entrance and Exit Criteria Guidelines 90% mastery 12

13 Appendix C Spanish Developmental Articulation Norms AGES b m p k w y t f l d ñ r g x s rr n ch Based on: Jimenez 1987, Acevedo % mastery 13

14 Activity 1 Familiarization with the acquisition of Spanish and English Spanish English At what age are the most sounds acquired? At what age is a child expected to have mastered all of his sounds? How many years does the entire process of acquisition take? At what age is /r/ mastered? At what age is /r/ in the process of being mastered? At what age is /th/ mastered? What sounds exist in Spanish but not in English? What sounds exist in English but not in Spanish? At what ages does the acquisition process begin and finish in English? At what ages does the acquisition process begin and finish in English? What is being mastered at age 7.5 in English that doesn t exist in Spanish? 14

15 References Acevedo, M.A. (1993). Development of Spanish consonants in preschool children. Journal of Childhood Communication Disorders, 15, Anderson, R., & Smith, B. (1987). Phonological development of two-year-old monolingual Puerto Rican Spanish-speaking children. Journal of Child Language, 14, Bedore, L. (1999). The acquisition of Spanish, In O. Taylor & L. Leonard (Eds.), Language acquisition across North America: Cross-cultural and cross-linguistic perspectives (pp ). San Diego: Singular Publishing Group. Encarta: Spanish Language. (2004). Retrieved January, 7, 2004, from Goldstein, B. (1999). Cultural and Linguistic Diversity Resource Guide for Speech Language Pathologists. New York, Singular Publishing Group, Inc. Goldstein, B. & Citron, P. (2001). An investigation of phonological skills in Puerto Rican Spanish-speaking 2-year-olds. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 15 (5), Goldstein, B. & Iglesias, A. (1996). Phonological patterns in normally developing Spanish-speaking 3- and 4-year-olds of Puerto Rican descent. Language, Speech and Hearing Services in the Schools, 27, Goldstein, B. & Washington, P.S. (2001). An initial investigation of phonological patterns in typically developing 4-year-old Spanish-English bilingual children. Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools, 32, Jimenez, B.C. (1987). Acquisition of Spanish consonants in children aged 3-5 years, 7 months. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in the Schools, 18(4),

16 MacNeilage, P.F., Davis, B.L., Kinney, A., & Matyear, C.L. (2000). The motor core of speech: A comparison of serial organization patterns in infants and languages. Child Development, 71(1), Maez, L., 1985, The acquisition of the Spanish sound system by native Spanish-speaking children. In E. Garcia and R. Padilla (Eds.) Advances in Bilingual Education Research (Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press), pp Mann, D. and Hodson, B., 1994, Spanish-speaking children s phonologies; assessment and remediation of disorders. Seminars in Speech and Language, 15, Quilis, A., Fernandez, J.A. (1999). Curso de fonetica y fonologia españolas. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC). Terrero, I. (1979). Spanish phonological acquisition. Paper presented at the American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association conference: Atlanta, GA. United States Census Bureau. Census Retrieved January 7, 2004, from 04.php 16

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