Speech Acquisition in Monolingual Children Acquiring isiZulu in Rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Keywords:isiZulu, Bantu languages, speech sound development, phonological processes, speech-language therapy
In South Africa, isiZulu is the most widely spoken home language. However, research on children’s speech acquisition in isiZulu is minimal and there are no published speech assessments that speech-language therapists can use to identify children with speech sound disorders acquiring this language. In our research we aimed to document speech sound acquisition of 32 isiZulu-speaking children aged two years, six months to six years, five months in rural KwaZulu- Natal, South Africa. An isiZulu speech assessment was developed and used to assess the children’s speech in terms of phonetic acquisition, word shape and phonological processes. In the study, the implosive, plosives, nasals, affricates and vowels were mastered by the youngest children. The click /!?/, approximant /l/ and fricative /?/ may be among the last consonants to develop: they had not been mastered by the oldest group. Two-syllable structures were mastered early while structures of four/five syllables were still developing at 6;5. Participants in the older age groups could produce target words more accurately and used fewer phonological processes. The findings are discussed in relation to normative data from other Bantu languages. Knowledge of isiZulu speech sound development will assist clinicians working with isiZulu-speaking children in assessing and managing their speech difficulties: an important step towards ensuring that speech-language therapy services are relevant to all children in South Africa.
Accredited Language Services. (2015). Zulu. Retrieved from https://www.alsintl.com/resources/languages/Zulu
Clark, M. (1988). An accentual analysis of the isiZulu noun. In H. van der Hulst & N. Smith (Eds.), Autosegmental studies on pitch accent (pp. 51–81). Netherlands: Foris Publications.
Cope, A. T. (1983). A comprehensive course in the Zulu language (Revised). KwaZulu Natal: Department of Zulu Language and Literature.
Davis, B. L., Jakielski, K. J., & Marquardt, T. P. (1998). Developmental apraxia of speech: Determiners of differential diagnosis. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 12(1), 25–45. https://doi.org/10.3109/02699209808985211
Demuth, K. (2007). Sesotho speech acquisition. In S. McLeod (Ed.), The international guide to speech acquisition (pp. 528–38). Clifton Park, NY: Thomson Delmar Learning.
Demuth, K. A., & Suzman, S. M. (1997). Language impairment in Zulu. BUCLD21: Proceedings of the 21st Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, 124–35.
Eisenberg, S. L., & Hitchcock, E. R. (2010). Using standardized tests to inventory consonant and vowel production: A comparison of 11 tests of articulation and phonology. Language, Speech & Hearing Services in Schools, 41, 488–503. https://doi.org/10.1044/0161-1461(2009/08-0125)
Forrest, K. (2003). Diagnostic criteria of developmental apraxia of speech used by clinical speech-language pathologists. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 12(3), 376–80. https://doi.org/10.1044/1058-0360(2003/083)
Frith, A. (2011). Census 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2015 from http://census2011.adrianfrith.com/place/527
Gangji, N., Pascoe, M., & Smouse, M. R. (2015). Swahili speech development: Preliminary normative data from typically developing pre-school children in Tanzania. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 50(2), 151–64. https://doi.org/10.1111/1460-6984.12118
Gxilishe, S. (2004). The acquisition of clicks by IsiXhosa-speaking children. Per Linguam, 20, 9–12.
Gxilishe, S., de Villiers, P., & de Villiers, J. (2007). The acquisition of subject agreement in Xhosa. In A. Belikova, L. Meroni & M. Umeda (Eds.), Proceedings of the 2nd Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (pp. 114–23). Somerville.
Jakobson, R. (1968). Child language, aphasia and phonological universals. The Hague: Mouton.
Khumalo, J. (1987). An autosegmental account of Zulu phonology. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.
Lewis, P. (1994). Aspects of the phonological acquisition of clicks in Xhosa. Masters dissertation. University of Stellenbosch. http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/58274
Mahura, O. O., & Pascoe, M. (2016). The acquisition of Setswana segmental phonology in children aged 3.0–6.0 years: A cross-sectional study. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 18(6), 533–49. https://doi.org/10.3109/17549507.2015.1126639
Maphalala, Z., Pascoe, M., & Smouse, M. R. (2014). Phonological development of first language isiXhosa-speaking children aged 3;0–6;0 years: A descriptive cross-sectional study. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 28(3), 176–94. https://doi.org/10.3109/02699206.2013.840860
McCormack, J., McLeod, S., McAllister, L., & Harrison, L. J. (2009). A systematic review of the association between childhood speech impairment and participation across the lifespan. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 11(2), 155–70. https://doi.org/10.1080/17549500802676859
Mosaka, N. M. (2000). Stress assignment in syllabic structures in Xhosa and Tswana. South African Journal of African Languages, 20(2), 177–85. https://doi.org/10.1080/02572117.2000.10587424
Mowrer, D. E., & Burger, S. (1991). A comparative analysis of phonological acquisition of consonants in the speech of 2½–6-year-old Xhosa- and English-speaking children. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 5(2), 139–64. http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/02699209108985510
Naidoo, Y., van der Merwe, A., Groenewald, E., & Naudé, E. (2005). Development of speech sounds and syllable structure of words in Zulu-speaking children. Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, 23(1), 59–79. https://doi.org/10.2989/16073610509486374
Poulos, G., & Bosch, S. E. (1997). Zulu. Munich: LINCOM Publishers.
Roux, J. (2007). Unresolved issues in the representation and phonetic description of click articulation in Xhosa and Zulu. Language Matters, 38(1), 8–25. https://doi.org/10.1080/10228190701640009
Shriberg, L., Austin, D., Lewis, B., McSweeny, J., & Wilson, D. (1997). The percentage of consonants correct (PCC) metric: Extensions and reliability data. Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research, 40(4), 708–22. https://doi.org/10.1044/jslhr.4004.708
Stoel-Gammon, C. (2011). Relationships between lexical and phonological development in young children. Journal of Child Language, 38, 1–34. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0305000910000425
Taljard, E., & Bosch, S. E. (2006). A comparison of approaches to word class tagging: Disjunctively vs. conjunctively written Bantu languages. Nordic Journal of African Studies, 15, 428–42.
Tuomi, S. K., Gxhilishe, S., & Matomela, L. (2001). The acquisition of Xhosa phonemes. Per Linguam, 17(1), 14–23. http://dx.doi.org/10.5785/17-1-132
van der Merwe, A., & Le Roux, M. (2014). Idiosyncratic sound systems of the South African Bantu languages: Research and clinical implications for speech-language pathologists and audiologists. South African Journal of Communication Disorders, 61(1), 1–8. https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v61i1.86
Van der Spuy, A. (2014). Bilabial palatalisation in Zulu: A morphologically conditioned phenomenon. Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics Plus, 44, 71. https://doi.org/10.5842/44-0-645
How to Cite
© Equinox Publishing Ltd.
For information regarding our Open Access policy, click here.