The analysis of the phonological systems of Arabic speaking children with cleft palate in Saudi Arabia
Makki, Suhair Mohammed
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Cleft palate is a congenital defect which can affect speech intelligibility, giving rise to delayed and deviant articulatory patterns. Cleft palate speech has universal characteristics so that knowledge acquired about one language can be applied to another. Thus a hypothesis was postulated that cleft palate may affect the intelligibility of Arabic speaking children in a way similar to English speaking. Despite limited information on Arabic phonology, particularly in children, this study was designed to examine the phonetic and phonologic skills of sixteen children, eight children with surgically repaired cleft palate (subjects) and eight non-cleft children (control) within the age range of 3.3 to 6.9 years of age. Speech samples were audio-taped then subjected to a number of phonetic and phonological analyses. The results revealed that the cleft palate subjects were a homogenous group. They were similar to one another with respect to their phonetic inventories, frequency and types of phonological processes used. In comparison to the controls, the homogenous group of the subjects were similar only to the four youngest control and not to the oldest four controls. Some processes were identified in the analysis of subjects only that were the same published for English speaking children with cleft palate. The data has suggested that there is a loss of contrastivity in the cleft palate subjects' speech which could affect their speech intelligibility, but not all of the articulatory problems among subjects can be explained solely on the basis of past structural deficits but there may be other factors that have an implication.
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