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Variability across repeated productions in bilingual children speaking Jamaican Creole and English

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posted on 2021-03-05, 10:41 authored by Sandy Abu El Adas, Karla N. Washington, Anna Sosa, Daphna Harel, Tara McAllister

Previous work suggests that variability across repeated productions of the same word may be useful in diagnosing speech sound disorder (SSD) in bilingual children. However, there is debate over what level of variability in transcribed productions should be considered typical even in monolingual speech development. High variability in the input represents a factor that could promote increased production variability in bilinguals. For this reason, the current study examines transcription-based token-to-token variability in bilingual children speaking Jamaican Creole (JC) and English.

Twenty-five bilingual children aged 3;4–5;1 and twenty-five monolingual children aged 2;9–4;1 from a previous study were recorded producing eleven items in three repetitions.

Contrary to our hypothesis, bilingual children showed similar rates of token-to-token variability compared to the monolingual children. In a separate analysis of bilingual data across languages, bilingual children were more variable in JC compared to English productions.

The difference between language contexts suggests that creole languages, which exist on a usage continuum, may be associated with increased variability in production. Our findings suggest that token-to-token production variability may be of similar clinical utility for bilingual and monolingual populations.

Funding

This research was financially supported by: (1) Jamaican Creole Language Project Endowment Fund; (2) The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Research [R21DC018170-01A1].

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