A Phonetic Investigation of Single Word Versus Connected Speech Production in Children With Persisting Speech Difficulties Relating to Cleft Palate

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Abstract

Objective:

To investigate the phonetic and phonological parameters of speech production associated with cleft palate in single words and in sentence repetition in order to explore the impact of connected speech processes, prosody, and word juncture on word production across contexts.

Participants:

Two boys (aged 9 years 5 months and 11 years 0 months) with persisting speech impairments related to a history of unilateral cleft lip and palate formed the main focus of the study; three typical adult male speakers provided control data.

Method:

Audio, video, and electropalatographic recordings were made of the participants producing single words and repeating two sets of sentences. The data were transcribed and the electropalatographic recordings were analyzed to explore lingual-palatal contact patterns across the different speech conditions. Acoustic analysis was used to further inform the perceptual analysis and to make specific durational measurements.

Results:

The two boys' speech production differed across the speech conditions. Both boys showed typical and atypical phonetic features in their connected speech production. One boy, although often unintelligible, resembled the adult speakers more closely prosodically and in his specific connected speech behaviors at word boundaries. The second boy produced developmentally atypical phonetic adjustments at word boundaries that appeared to promote intelligibility at the expense of naturalness.

Conclusion:

For older children with persisting speech impairments, it is particularly important to examine specific features of connected speech production, including word juncture and prosody. Sentence repetition data provide useful information to this end, but further investigations encompassing detailed perceptual and instrumental analysis of real conversational data are warranted.

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