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S1_JSLHR-21-00386Leon.pdf (515.45 kB)

Acoustic analysis of bilingual children’s speech (León et al., 2022)

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posted on 2022-07-14, 20:39 authored by Michelle León, Karla N. Washington, Victoria S. McKenna, Kathryn Crowe, Kristina Fritz

Purpose: The aim of this study was to characterize speech acoustics in bilingual preschoolers who speak Jamaican Creole (JC) and English. We compared a standard approach with a culturally responsive approach for characterizing speech sound productions. Preschoolers’ speech productions were compared to adult models from the same linguistic community as a means for providing confirmatory evidence of typical speech patterns specific to JC–English speakers.

Method: Two protocols were applied to the data collected using the Diagnostic Evaluation of Articulation and Phonology (DEAP) Articulation subtest: (a) the standardized DEAP protocol and (b) a culturally and linguistically adapted protocol reflective of the Jamaican post-Creole (English to Creole) continuum. The protocols were used to analyze responses from JC-English–speaking preschoolers (n = 119) and adults (n = 15). Responses were analyzed using acoustic (voice onset time, whole-word duration, and vowel duration) and perceptual (percentage of consonant correct–revised and response frequencies) measures.

Results: The culturally responsive protocol captured variation in the frequency and acoustic differences produced in the post-Creole continuum, with higher amounts of “other” responses compared to “standard” target responses for both children and adults. Adults’ whole-word durations were shorter and showed more consistent prevoicing during initial plosives compared to the children.

Conclusions: Applying culturally responsive methods, including knowledge of the variation produced in the post-Creole continuum and with adult models from the same linguistic community, improved the ecological validity of speech characterizations for JC–English preschoolers. Acoustic properties of speech should be investigated further as a means of describing bilingual development and distinguishing between difference and disorder.

Supplemental Material S1. Frequency (most to least) of children’s response variation.

León, M. Washington, K. N., McKenna, V. S., Crowe, K., & Fritz, K. (2022). Linguistically informed acoustic and perceptual analysis of bilingual children’s speech productions: An exploratory study in the Jamaican context. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Advance online publication.


The first author is a recipient of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs Preparation of Special Education and Early Intervention grant that funds her doctoral studies. The second author is a lead faculty member on this grant with salary support provided. The second author also receives salary support from the National Institutes of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (R21DC018170-01A1). The research presented was supported by an Endowment to the Jamaican Creole Language Project.