Phonological and phonetic factors affecting the early consonantal development in Setswana

Matlhaku, Keneilwe (2023) Phonological and phonetic factors affecting the early consonantal development in Setswana. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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This dissertation focuses on the phonological and phonetic development of three typically developing children of age ranging between 1;10 and 3;02 who are learning Setswana as their first language. We provide a detailed analysis of these children’s early speech development patterns, with a primary focus on the potential origins of these patterns. The aim is not to provide normative data, but to understand early patterns of phonological development in Setswana, whose acquisition by young children is relatively under-documented within the literature. Our data display the following trends: (1) early acquisition of obstruent stops, nasals, and N̩ C sequences: (2) production of fricatives through various substitution patterns (e.g. stopping, affrication as well as debuccalization); (3) simplification of target affricates (e.g. deaffrication, deaspiration and delabialization). Non-lateral affricates also yielded fewer errors (and earlier mastery) than their lateral counterparts, whose production displayed patterns of delateralization and velarization to velar [k], in addition to deaffrication. The target approximants |j, w| and |l, r| were generally acquired early, with the exception of the rhotic |r|, whose production was the most variable of all consonants documented in this study, also characterized by the lowest accuracy rates for all the children. We analyze these phenomena through current models of phonological emergence (MacWhinney 2015), as conceived within the area of phonology through the A-map model (McAllister Byun, Inkelas & Rose 2016). We highlight how the substitution patterns observed in the data can be captured through a consideration of the auditory properties of the target speech sounds, combined with an understanding of the types of articulatory gestures involved in the production of these sounds. These considerations in turn highlight some of the most central aspects of the challenges faced by the child toward learning these auditory-articulatory mappings. Beyond theoretical issues, this dissertation sets an initial foundation towards developing speech-language pathology materials and services for Setswana learning children, an emerging area of public service in Botswana.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 16250
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 171-189)
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Linguistics
Date: May 2023
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Tswana language--Acquisition; Tswana language--Phonology; Tswana language--Phonetics; Children--Botswana--Language

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