This study investigated speech sound and syllable development in eighteen Zulu speaking children, between the ages of 3;0 to 6;2. In addition, the frequency of occurrence of Zulu speech sounds and syllables in this age group was investigated. To elicit a representative sample of the subjects’ natural speech, a 100-word spontaneous conversational sample was elicited from each subject. The samples were collected by a linguistically matched research assistant. All samples were transcribed phonetically by a stringent transcription procedure, and the reliability of the transcription was assessed by an external moderator. The UNIBET was used to code the transcription into computer recognisable symbols. The Phonetic Calculator Program (PCP) quantitively analysed the samples in terms of speech sound inventory, syllable inventory and the frequency of occurrence of speech sounds and syllables. The data was processed to allow for the comparison of the findings at three age levels namely, 3;0-4;0; 4;1-5;1 and 5;2-6;2. It was found that there was developmental progression between the ages of 3;0-6;2, with regard to speech sounds and syllables. It was found that much speech and syllable development occurred before the age of 3;0, and that the speech sound inventory and syllable inventory was incomplete by the age of 6;2. In addition, the nasals, plosives, approximants and fricatives were found to develop earlier than the affricates, clicks and prenasalised consonant sounds. The shorter syllable strings were found to develop earlier than the longer syllable strings. The subjects produced more speech sounds at an earlier age than their English-speaking peers. The subjects also produced longer strings of syllables at a younger age than their English-speaking peers. The findings in Group 1, Group 2 and Group 3 were similar to each other with regard to, the order of the speech sound frequency and syllable frequency. The more complex sounds and syllables were produced more frequently by the older subjects, demonstrating developmental progression. The findings have important clinical implications. Furthermore, the study can provide Speech-Language Therapists with a framework for further research, and contribute in constructing a relevant database of Zulu speech development.
Dissertation (MA (Communication Pathology))--University of Pretoria, 2005.