Consonant-vowel co-occurrence patterns produced by Spanish-English bilingual children
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Simultaneous bilingual and early sequential bilingual children are exposed to two languages while acquiring the sound system for the first time. In bilingual children who are identified with speech sound delay or disorder, the question arises of how to approach intervention in the most effective way. In monolingual English learning children, some strong within syllable patterns of coronal consonant and front vowel, labial consonant and central vowel, and dorsal consonant and back vowel that are based on rhythmic mandibular oscillations without independent movement of the tongue have been identified as occurring more frequently. No information is available on children learning Spanish or on children who are early bilinguals relative to the presence of these patterns in output. Consideration of the presence of these patterns, typical of early development in English learning children, would help to plan remediation more precisely for bilingual speech delayed children. If the patterns are present, they should be accounted for as basic aspects of the production system output available to young children that might need to be assessed and incorporated into early intervention protocols for bilingual children. The present study tests the hypothesis that significant similarities between performance-based, consonant-vowel (CV) co-occurrence patterns produced in Spanish and English can provide greater efficacy for assessment and intervention practices for bilingual Spanish-English children. Within syllable CV co-occurrence patterns were observed from 66 months to 81 months of age in six bilingual Spanish-English speaking children. Consonants were categorized into labial, coronal, and dorsal place of articulation while vowels were categorized by front, central, and back dimensions to evaluate co-occurrences. Predictions based on the Frame then Content (FC) theory (MacNeilage & Davis, 1990) were evaluated relative to intrasyllabic combinations of consonants and vowels. Results confirmed the prediction that CV co-occurrence patterns produced by bilingual Spanish-English speaking children share significant similarities with those produced by children in previously researched languages. These results show that the production based hypothesis of the FC theory of speech production, tested previously on English learning children is also characteristic of bilingual children learning Spanish and English. These findings suggest that consonant-vowel co-occurrence patterns are impacted by the capacity of the production system to produce different sounds in combination in diverse language learning circumstances, even when children are simultaneous bilingual learners. Mandibular oscillation without independent tongue movement within syllables is responsible for early intrasyllabic patterns produced by children. The FC theory supports the role of performance-based assessment and intervention for future practices in the field.