Acquisition of South African English by three- to five-year-old children in Cape Town

Michelle Pascoe, Olebeng Mahura

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review


South African English is spoken in South Africa, together with ten other official languages.
There is limited information on children’s acquisition of South African English and multiple languages
in this context. We describe the development of speech in preschool children acquiring South African
English in Cape Town. Objectives were to describe (a) the phonological processes and phonemic
inventory of participants by language background; (b) the prevalence of children with speech disorders
in this sample, and (c) the diagnostic category of participants with speech disorders with reference to
Dodd’s (2005) framework. We assessed 308 children aged 3;0–5;11 acquiring South African English.
They were from different areas in Cape Town covering a variety of socio-economic backgrounds.
Children were excluded where languages other than English, Afrikaans or isiXhosa (the three main
languages spoken in the region) were spoken. Participants were assessed using subtests of the
Diagnostic Evaluation of Articulation and Phonology (DEAP, Dodd et al., 2002). Phonological
processes and inventories of the children are broadly comparable with normative data for English
speech acquisition documented in the literature, and as expected a progression was observed with
increasing age. First language speakers of Afrikaans and isiXhosa showed some aspects of English
phonological development linked to influences of their L1. Approximately 9% of children (n=28) had
speech difficulties, with the greatest proportion of these (75%, n=21) phonologically delayed. Limited
information about typical speech sound development in South African children presents a challenge for
speech and language therapists who need to identify and manage children with speech difficulties.
Theoretically the work contributes to knowledge of typical speech development in multilingual
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the International Symposium on Monolingual and Bilingual Speech 2017
EditorsElena Babatsouli
PublisherInstitute of Monolingual and Bilingual Speech
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9786188235113
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventInternational Symposium on Monolingual and Bilingual Speech 2017
- Great Arsenali Conference Center, Chania, Greece
Duration: 04 Sept 201707 Sept 2017


ConferenceInternational Symposium on Monolingual and Bilingual Speech 2017
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Acquisition of South African English by three- to five-year-old children in Cape Town'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this