Multilingual English-Mandarin-Malay phonological error patterns

An initial cross-sectional study of 2 to 4 years old Malaysian Chinese children

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Child multilingual phonological errors are under-explored. Cross-linguistic studies suggest monolingual children make phonological errors that are subject to effects of language universality and ambient language characteristics. Bilingual Chinese children were observed to use not only typical, but also atypical phonological errors compared to monolingual peers acquiring similar languages. Atypical errors are a result of specific bilingual pair effects. Close-language-relatedness (Cantonese-Mandarin) is claimed to be responsible for the nonexistence of atypical errors in both languages, whilst distant-language-relatedness (Cantonese-English) is observed to cause atypical errors in both languages. The present novel cross-sectional study investigated phonological acquisition in three typologically distant languages: English-Mandarin-Malay by 64 multilingual Chinese children aged 2½-4½. The present research aimed to explore if multilingual Chinese children exhibit phonological errors which commensurate to that of monolingual and bilingual Chinese children acquiring similar languages as described in the literature. The single-word phonological test results revealed that the multilinguals exhibited typical and atypical phonological patterns which largely commensurate with the monolinguals and bilinguals. Similar to bilingual children, the multilingual children showed more atypical errors in English than in Mandarin, demonstrating effects of individual language irrespective of potential interaction with additional languages. The present result did not fully support the link between closeness in typology of languages and the absence of atypical errors. Rare atypical errors were found in Mandarin and Malay, two typologically different languages, and both were also interacting with English, another typologically different language. The present findings provided useful preliminary multilingual speech norms for the use of speech therapists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalClinical Linguistics and Phonetics
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 9 Jul 2018

Fingerprint

cross-sectional study
Language
Cross-Sectional Studies
language
Phonological Errors
speech therapist
present
Linguistics
English language
typology
linguistics

Keywords

  • distant-language-relatedness
  • English-Mandarin-Malay
  • Malaysian Chinese children
  • multilingual phonological acquisition
  • multilingual phonological errors
  • typology of languages

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

Cite this

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title = "Multilingual English-Mandarin-Malay phonological error patterns: An initial cross-sectional study of 2 to 4 years old Malaysian Chinese children",
abstract = "Child multilingual phonological errors are under-explored. Cross-linguistic studies suggest monolingual children make phonological errors that are subject to effects of language universality and ambient language characteristics. Bilingual Chinese children were observed to use not only typical, but also atypical phonological errors compared to monolingual peers acquiring similar languages. Atypical errors are a result of specific bilingual pair effects. Close-language-relatedness (Cantonese-Mandarin) is claimed to be responsible for the nonexistence of atypical errors in both languages, whilst distant-language-relatedness (Cantonese-English) is observed to cause atypical errors in both languages. The present novel cross-sectional study investigated phonological acquisition in three typologically distant languages: English-Mandarin-Malay by 64 multilingual Chinese children aged 2½-4½. The present research aimed to explore if multilingual Chinese children exhibit phonological errors which commensurate to that of monolingual and bilingual Chinese children acquiring similar languages as described in the literature. The single-word phonological test results revealed that the multilinguals exhibited typical and atypical phonological patterns which largely commensurate with the monolinguals and bilinguals. Similar to bilingual children, the multilingual children showed more atypical errors in English than in Mandarin, demonstrating effects of individual language irrespective of potential interaction with additional languages. The present result did not fully support the link between closeness in typology of languages and the absence of atypical errors. Rare atypical errors were found in Mandarin and Malay, two typologically different languages, and both were also interacting with English, another typologically different language. The present findings provided useful preliminary multilingual speech norms for the use of speech therapists.",
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