Markedness and implicational relationships in phonological development: a longitudinal, cross-linguistic investigation

Watts, Erica (2018) Markedness and implicational relationships in phonological development: a longitudinal, cross-linguistic investigation. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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This dissertation sets out to evaluate theoretical and empirical issues involved in referring to implicational relationships (i.e., that a marked or complex sound or phonological process implies the presence of an unmarked or simpler sound or process) for the treatment of speech sound disorders (e.g., Gierut 2007). Due to the relatively untested and unexplored nature of implicational relationships, and because of their potential relevance to Speech-Language Pathology practice, I investigated the following research questions: (1) Are implicational relationships warranted cross-linguistically in the description of phonological development? (2) Can factors outside of universal markedness account for attested patterns of phonological development? I conducted six detailed longitudinal case studies documenting typical phonological systems in English, French, German, and Portuguese, as well as atypical development in one English-learning child. Based on these studies, I claim that implicational relationships based on universal markedness are theoretically and empirically questionable. The results from my investigation highlight the influence of speech phonetics and phonological distributions in all aspects of development. Additionally, the few implicational relationships that appear to make valid predictions can be described in terms of articulatory complexity: the sounds that the children acquired first are easier to articulate for a number of reasons (e.g., motoric, perceptual, grammatical). As claims based on universal markedness generally do not account for the data, I investigate whether a phonetically driven view of markedness could apply. This inquiry led me to advocate for a markedness-through-mechanism (Hume 2011) approach to phonological development, which combines perceptual distinctiveness, phonetic variability, and articulatory simplicity; which, in child language, can be rather salient due to anatomical and motor properties of child speech production. I combine this view of phonetically conditioned markedness with the A-map model (McAllister Byun, Inkelas & Rose 2016), which provides a formal link relating perceptual targets and the dimensions involved in the motor-acoustic mappings of these objects on to patterns of speech production. In a nutshell, combining markedness-through-mechanism with the A-map provides a way to frame the phonological patterns that we observe in child phonological development that is both theoretically consistent and clinically applicable. This approach expands on our understanding of the underpinnings of speech sound disorders and provides a new model that can guide Speech- Language Pathologists in their selection of treatment approaches to speech disorders.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 13683
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 316-331).
Keywords: phonology, speech-language pathology, phonological acquisition, implicational relationships, markedness
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Linguistics
Date: October 2018
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Markedness (Linguistics); Grammar, Comparative and general--Phonology; Speech therapy

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