Fijian school students’ Fiji English speech sound acquisition

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Abstract

Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate Fijian students’ acquisition of Fiji English speech sounds. Method: Participants were 72 multilingual students (5–10 years) living in Fiji who spoke the Fijian or Fiji Hindi dialects of Fiji English. The students’ productions of single words from the Diagnostic Evaluation of Articulation and Phonology (DEAP) were analysed according to dialect using the Children’s Independent and Relational Phonological Analysis (CHIRPA). Result: Most English consonants were acquired by 6;0. English consonants that were not in the inventories of Fijian or Fiji Hindi were the last acquired, while those that were common between English and the two languages were some of the earlier acquired consonants. Percentage of consonants correct (PCC) for Fiji English was significantly lower for Grade 1 students (M = 93.01, SD = 0.07) in comparison to Grade 4 students (M = 99.03, SD = 0.01). Plosive and nasal sounds were acquired by 90% of the students earlier than fricative, approximant and affricate sounds, though acquisition of some plosive and fricative sounds varied between Fiji English dialects. All word-initial consonant clusters were acquired by 90% of the students by 9;6, with r-clusters tending to be the latest acquired. The acquisition of word-final consonant clusters was highly variable as students often produced appropriate dialectal variants. Conclusion: Multilingual Fijian children may acquire English specific sounds later than their monolingual English-speaking peers. Consideration of the language environment and analysis of the speech sample with reference to the child’s dominant English dialect is imperative for valid identification of speech sound disorder (SSD) in children who speak different dialects of English.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-270
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Volume24
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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