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Phonological Analysis

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Linguistics Seminar

Phonological Development and Disorders

Professor: Univ.-Prof. PhD Ineke Mennen

Vanessa Villefort



WS 2015/16

Table of Contents


  1. Independent Analysis        

1.1. Phonetic Inventory and Distribution         

2. Statement of Constraints         

2.1. Inventory of vowels        

2.2. Inventory of consonants        

2.3. Inventory of word shapes        

2.4. Distribution of single consonants and consonant clusters        

3. Phonological Processes        

 2.1 Structural Simplifications        

2.2. Systemic Simplifications         

2.3 Summary of Phonological Processes        

2.3 Comparison of Phonological Processes        

3. Profile of phonological development        

3.1. Classification of disordered phonological development        

3.2. Conclusion         



The aim of this paper is to analyze a given set of data of a boy named Stuart regarding his phonological development and possible language disorders.

Stuart is four years and eight months old. His parents are worried because they claim that he does not speak as well as his friends do. In addition to that, also his parents have problems understanding him and therefore have send him to a speech therapist. To Stuart’s person:

Stuart babbled normally, his first words emerged with two years and his first two-word utterances with three years. According to the case history information his cognitive, motor and social development had been normal. He  socializes well with other children and he also has a good attention span. However, his speech has always been unclear.

Speech and language therapists have found out so far, that Stuart does not have any physiological abnormalities of the vocal tract and also his hearing was found to be within normal limits.

Furthermore also Stuart’s comprehension was assessed, which was found to be delayed by approximately nine months. For further investigations a data set has been recorded and transcribed, which shall be analyzed in the following.

  1. Independent Analysis

First of all, an independent analysis of Stuart’s data is made. Thereby the present data set will be analyzed without referencing it to the adult or target system. This means more precisely, that Stuart’s language production will be examined regarding its system, its structure and its constraints. Thereby in the following Stuart’s dada set will be analyzed regarding its phonetic inventory and distribution.

1.1. Phonetic Inventory and Distribution

1.1.1. Inventory of vowel phones

Examining the inventory of vowel phones means to collect all the vowels which appear in Stuart’s data set. Having done so, produced vowels are presented in blue in the following vowel chart:[pic 1]

Graphic 1: IPA vowel chart

To explain the chart more precisely, it is to say that while the blue vowels present the vowels found in the data set, the red ones present the missing ones. It already becomes quite obvious, just by looking at the chart, that Stuart’s data seems to contain exclusively monophthongs, while diphthongs are completely missing. Although this cannot be ignored, by now the monophthongs should be examined in more detail.

short monophthongs

long monophthongs

a = 22

ə = 19

ɪ = 24

ɛ = 10

ʉ = 7

o = 4

ɔ = 3

iː = 1

aː = 9

Based on the table above it can be determined that the short monophthongs overweight the long ones. However, since Stuart has a Scottish accent it seems to be necessary to look at the Scottish vowel system later.

1.1.2. Inventory of consonant phones

After having examined the inventory of vowel phones present in Stuart’s data set, in the following all consonants present in the data will be collected. The inventory of consonants is presented in the table below. The consonants marked blue are present, the ones in red are missing in the data. [pic 2]

The inventory of consonant phones seems to be very poor. Most present are plosives, in particular the voiced alveolar plosive d with 51 times. Beside that only two different nasals, one fricative and a labial-velar approximate could be detected.

1.1.3. Inventory of word shapes

This sections looks at the complexity and structure of the produced words. Depending on the length of the words, or more precisely of the number of syllables, monosyllabic, disyllabic and polysyllabic word shapes are distinguished.




CV (3)

VC, CVC (2)

CV, CV, CV (1)

CVC (16)

CV, CVCC (6)

CVCC (4)

CVC, CV (4)


V, CVCC (1)

CV, CVC (10)

Based on the data set, it can be assumed that Stuart uses most monosyllabic words, but also a lot of words containing two syllables. In addition, it seems as he produces a variety of different structured monosyllabic and disyllabic words. However, only one word containing more than two syllables (polysyllabic) could be found in the data set.

1.1.4. Distribution of single consonants



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