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Vowels and Consonants: The Relative Effect of Speech Sound Errors on Intelligibility

  • Author / Creator
    Mackie, Kaitlin M.
  • Although speech-language pathologists (SLPs) have access to a wealth of information to guide the selection and prioritization of targets for intervention with children who have speech sound disorders (SSDs), empirical evidence needed to support such decisions is lacking. The role of vowels is often neglected in the literature (Davis & MacNeilage, 1990; Pollock & Keiser, 1990) and yet, an understanding of vowels may help to recognize the full picture of intelligibility for children with SSDs. The present study is a partial replication of an unpublished investigation by Vaughn and Pollock (1997). The present study aims to determine if: i) there is a significant difference between the effect of vowel and consonant error patterns on intelligibility; ii) there is a significant difference between individual error patterns on intelligibility regardless of vowel or consonant status. The present study differs from the previous unpublished study in that the target items were controlled for frequency and phonological density. Furthermore, speech production of words were recorded from a child’s speech rather than using computer generated speech. Participants in the present study listened to the recordings of a child saying real English words with and without specific vowel and consonant errors. Adult listeners were asked to type out the real English word that they believed the child was trying to say. Percent accuracy for each of the error categories (i.e. correct, vowel errors, consonant errors, and combined errors) or individual error patterns (e.g., Tensing, Stopping) was used as a measure of intelligibility. Analysis showed no significant differences between vowel and consonant error categories. Only one of the individual error patterns, Prevocalic Voicing, was significantly different from the 5 other error patterns. Post-hoc analysis of the joint effect of word position and individual error pattern suggested that different error patterns may affect intelligibility uniquely as a function of distinctive word positions. These data provide the evidence-based support needed to encourage clinicians to investigate vowel errors more closely and consider selecting them as targets in the remediation of SSDs.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2015-11
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3WM14024
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Master's
  • Department
    • Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Specialization
    • Speech-Language Pathology
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Pollock, Karen (Communication Sciences and Disorders)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Boliek, Carol A. (Communication Sciences and Disorders)
    • McFarlane, Lu-Anne (Communication Sciences and Disorders)
    • Tucker, Benjamin V. (Linguistics)