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Intelligibility of children with speech sound disorders evaluated by listeners with Swedish as a second language

Journal article
Authors Tove B Lagerberg
Jenny Lam
Rikard Olsson
Åsa Abelin
Sofia Strömbergsson
Published in Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Volume 62
Issue 10
Pages 3714-3727
ISSN 1092-4388
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science
Pages 3714-3727
Language en
Subject categories Logopedics and phoniatrics, Children's language, Phonetics, Linguistics


© 2019 The Authors. Purpose: This study aimed to investigate the intelligibility of children’s atypical speech in relation to listeners’ language background. Method: Forty-eight participants listened to and transcribed isolated words repeated by children with speech sound disorders. Participants were divided into, on the one hand, a multilingual group (n = 29) that was further divided into subgroups based on age of acquisition (early, 0–3 years; intermediate, 4–12 years; and late, > 12 years) and, on the other hand, a monolingual comparison group (n = 19). Results: The monolingual listeners obtained higher intelligibility scores than the multilingual listeners; this difference was statistically significant. Participants who acquired Swedish at an older age (> 4 years) were found to have lower scores than other listeners. The later the age of acquisition, the less of the atypical speech was decoded correctly. A further analysis of the transcriptions also revealed a higher level of nonwords among the incorrect transcriptions of the multilinguals than that of the monolinguals who used more real words, whereas both groups were equally prone to using blanks when they did not perceive a word. Conclusions: This indicates a higher risk of communicative problems between late acquirers of Swedish and children with speech sound disorders. Clinical implications, such as involving communication partners in the intervention process, are discussed as well as possible linguistic explanations to the findings. This study could be seen as a starting point in the field of research regarding the relations between the language background of the listener and the ability to perceive atypical speech.

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