The impact of dialect on Fijian children’s acquisition of English speech sounds

Holly Mcalister, Suzanne Hopf, Sharynne McLeod

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


BACKGROUND: The age children can correctly produce speech sounds in a language is an important element of assessment by speech-language pathologists (SLPs). However, assessment is complicated for multilingual children since sounds in one language/dialect influence the production of sounds in another. Studies of multilingual speech sound acquisition aim to document cross-linguistic influences to enable valid diagnosis of speech sound disorders. Fiji has three institutional languages (Standard Fijian, Standard Hindi and English). Hundreds of other dialects and languages are spoken by Fijians. The linguistic multi-competence of Fijian children has received limited research attention. AIM(S): For typically developing multilingual Fijian school-age children: 1. What is the pattern of English speech sound acquisition? 2. What is the effect of dialectal difference on the identification and the rating of severity of speech sound disorders? METHOD: This study analysed English consonant acquisition patterns of 74 multilingual Fijian primary school students (34 in Year 1, 40 in Year 4). Children were tested using the Diagnostic Evaluation of Articulation and Phonology and the transcribed samples were analysed using the Children's Independent and Relational Phonological Analysis for two Fiji English dialects: Fijian Fiji English (FFE) and Fiji Hindi Fiji English (FHFE). RESULT(S): The majority of consonants were acquired in Year 1 (cf. McLeod & Crowe, 2018). Acquisition was later for consonants not shared between Standard English and Fijian home languages. Consideration of dialect in the contrastive analysis and calculation of percentage of consonants correct influenced identification of speech sound disorders in nine Year 1 students. CONCLUSION: This study expands understanding of multilingual speech sound acquisition and encourages SLPs to focus on children's dialects.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020
EventSpeech Pathology Australia National Conference 2020 (cancelled) - Darwin, Australia
Duration: 01 May 2020 → …


ConferenceSpeech Pathology Australia National Conference 2020 (cancelled)
Period01/05/20 → …
Internet address


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