Classifying disordered speech: ‘Stridency deletion’ and phonological processes
Issue: Vol 8 No. 2 (2017) .
Subject Areas: Linguistics
In this account we address phonological processes, and in particular, stridency deletion. We discuss the difference between stridency and sibilance, and then outline the variety of patterns that are claimed to make up the process. We look in turn at patterns of normal phonological development of fricatives in English, and typical patterns found in phonological disorders, and note that these do not provide evidence to support using the concept of stridency. Further, evidence is provided from the phonetic level in both normal acquisition and articulatory disorders that supports a sibilant versus non-sibilant analysis, and we consider why sibilant fricatives should provide especial challenges to speakers. We conclude by considering two problems. The first is a problem with imprecise phonetic description suggesting that a phonological substitution of target alveolar fricatives by dental ones occurs much more often that it really does. The second is the problem of ad hoc process invention by speech-language pathology researchers beyond the limits described in the original theory of natural phonology. We hope to have shown, therefore, that not only is stridency deletion not a process, but stridency is not a helpful concept in clinical phonology, and processes are currently used simply as convenient labels with little theoretical validity.
Author: Martin J. Ball, Sara Howard
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