Bilingual phonological development across generations: Segmental accuracy and error patterns in second-and third-generation British Bengali children
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Introduction: While developmental normsfor speech sound development have been widely reported for monolingual children, and increasingly for bilingual children, little is known about speech sound developmentacrossdifferent generations of children growing up in heritage language settings.The purpose of the present study was to gain a better understanding of inter-generational differences in the phonological development ofBritish Bengali children.Methods: Typically-developing second-generation and third-generationBengali heritage children living in Wales(n=19), aged between 4 and 5 years, participated in a picture-naming task in Sylheti and English. The single-word speech samples were transcribed phonetically and analyzedin terms of consonant and vowelaccuracy measures,and error patterns.Subsequently, logistic mixed-effects regression models were fitted to identify thefactors that predict accurate speech patterns in the children’s productions. Results: The results revealed high levels of accuracy in consonant and vowel production by both sets of children, particularlyin English. On Sylheti consonants, second-generation children significantly outperformed third-generation children, howeveronly on language-specific sounds. In contrast, generation wasnot a significant predictor for accuracy on English consonants, but allchildren performed better on shared sounds thanon English-specific categories, and on stops than affricates. The third-generation children exhibited a greater number of error types in Sylheti than the second-generation children, and more common replacement of Sylheti dental stops with alveolars. Conclusion:Theresults suggest that third-generation children have less developed pronunciation patterns inthe heritage language, but not the majority language, thantheir age-matched second-generation peers, however only on language-specific sounds. These findingsindicatethat differentiating between the phonological norms of monolingual and bilingual children may not be clinically sufficiently sensitive, at least in the minority language, and that more fine-grained language use variables, such as the generation to which a bilingual child belongs, need to be considered.
Journal of Communication Disorders;
Article published in Journal of Communication Disorders available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcomdis.2021.106140
Cardiff Metropolitan University (Grant ID: Cardiff Metropolian (Internal))
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