Phonetic Inventories and Phonological Patterns of African American Two-Year-Olds: A Preliminary Investigation

Bland-Stewart, Linda M.
March 2003
Communication Disorders Quarterly;Spring2003, Vol. 24 Issue 3, p109
Academic Journal
This pilot study investigated the phonological skills of 8 African American English (AAE) speaking 2-year-olds. Spontaneous language samples were transcribed and phonological data were entered into the Interactive System for Phonological Analysis (Masterson & Pagan, 1993) for analyses of phonetic inventory, phonological processes, and word shapes. Data were examined to determine if the phonological patterns seen in AAE-speaking children are indicative of emerging dialectal patterns. Findings provide evidence that 2-year-old AAE-speaking children acquire and use the same phonemes and phonological processes as described in the literature for both AAE-speaking toddlers and toddlers speaking Standard American English (SAE). Although the study participants demonstrated frequent use of phonological patterns consistent with AAE, the results could not categorically distinguish typical phonological development from emergent dialectal features. Clinical implications suggest that although assessment of an African American toddler's phonology need not be different from that of SAE-speaking children, an understanding of typical AAE phonological development is necessary to better differentiate an AAE-speaking toddler with deviant phonological development.


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