The impact of birth order on the development of word-initial consonant clusters
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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This study examines the acquisition of word-initial consonant clusters in siblings and only children, while also monitoring for gender difference. The sample consisted of twenty-six children with an average age of 3;8, that were either first-born (older) siblings, last-born (younger) siblings or only children. Each one participated in a picture naming task which analysed their acquisition of fifteen consonant clusters. The results found that despite the older siblings producing the most consonant clusters correctly overall and the younger siblings producing the least, there was in fact no significant difference between the sibling status groups. However, significance was found when analysing the error patterns made, with only children making less reduction errors and more substitution errors than the other two groups. This indicated that only children were closer to achieving accurate realisations for many of the consonant clusters they produced errors on than the other two groups (Greenlee, 1974). Although, as only children made far more errors overall than older siblings, this may in fact suggest their level of phonological acquisition was closer to older siblings. Younger siblings actually made the most errors of all three groups and many of these errors were reductions. This might suggest their phonological development was slightly below that of the other two groups. Nonetheless, as significance was only found on the errors produced by these three groups and there was no overall significance, no solid conclusions can be ascertained. There was found to be no significance between the genders on any of the measures tested.
B.Sc.(Hons) Speech and Language Therapy
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