This 68th collection of students’ pearls of wisdom, laboriously digitised from hand-
The following productions are from a child aged 3;6:
Target Child production a. soup θup b. Sally ˈθæwi c. school θkuw d. summer ˈθʌmə e. thumb fʌm f. thing fɪŋɡ g. thank you ˈfæŋkju h. three fri
Account for this child’s acquisition of fricative phonemes.
There is confusion. The child may be bilingual.
The data show that plosives are acquired before fricatives. /r/ and /l/ should not have been acquired already.
The child has trouble pronouncing fricatives, probably because the child does not have many teeth.
Initial /t/ in examples e. to h. does not involve stopping, as is more common in young children.
The child’s ability to pronounce is not developed yet. The letter ‘s’ is a late acquisition, so the child lisps it.
The data show progression from left to right, s → θ and t → f.
The child is at the one-
The child changes [s] to [θ] in word-
The child is not basing her production on the correct spelling of the words. It could be due to the reader’s ambiguous pronunciation.
The child is trying harder fricatives: [θ] is harder than [s], and [f] is harder than [θ].
The child fricatives are easier to articulate than the target ones in the underlying representative.
The child has a full set of teeth, and so likes practising phonemes.
The stop [s] is fronted. The fricative [r] is not, but the fricative [l] is backed.
We conclude that children acquire fricative phonemes which are [+stop] due to their inability to produce fricative phonemes which are [-stop].
The acquisition of [s] is late. Dental and labial vowels are easiest. The child cannot pronounce consonant clusters, e.g. /th/. All sounds here are mostly [+stops], so the child simplifies [θ] to [f].
English consonants, in context, are always expirated, so children tend to make the fricative ‘s’ more intense. The child intensifies it by blocking the air passage escaping.
There is final consonant omittion in ‘thumb’ when it is voiceless and followed by nothing, but no deletion when it is voiced like in the word ‘soup’.
The data show that a phoneme is the smallest unit of sound which is meaningful.
In lexical features, child language prefers short vowels. The child is assimilating to the neighbouring vowel.
The child could be practising minimal pairs, which are words written in the same way that include a different vowel. The child can’t pronounce alveolars /s, t/. So he switches to [-voice] /θ, f/.
The child has two front teeth, hence favours dental phonemes. The child uses dentals because he prefers to use his teeth to speak. Also he prefers to see (and not just hear) the way he articulates a word. The child has perceived a more physical notion of fricatives.
This is not acceptable, because the onsets of the syllables have different places of articulation. It does not enable the child to speak fluently.
The ‘s’ consonant involves both upper and lower dental. The child has acquired partial fricatives like θ and f.
More to come...