Development and change in the phonology of Putonghua-speaking children with speech difficulties

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Newcastle University


The speech error patterns of seven Putonghua-speaking children with speech difficulties, who received no clinical intervention, were assessed twice over an interval of about 11 months. Qualitative measures (phonetic inventory, phonemic inventory, and phonological process use) and quantitative measures (severity score and inconsistency rating) were used. One child's phonology was within normal limits initially, but showed characteristics of delayed development at the second assessment. Of the three children presented with delayed acquisition at the initial assessment, one child had attained age-appropriate phonology at the second assessment, while the other two children remained delayed. Two children who consistently used phonological error patterns atypical of normal development and one child whose speech was characterized by inconsistency showed little change in the number and type of errors made. The theoretical and clinical implications of these results are discussed. It is argued that children with different underlying deficits might follow different paths of development. Delayed phonological development may occur at any stage of children's phonological acquisition and spontaneously resolve later, while disordered phonological development may start at speech onset and be resistant to changes, due to deficits in the speech processing chain. The data support the need for differential diagnosis and treatment of children with speech disorders.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-368
Number of pages18
JournalClinical Linguistics and Phonetics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2000


  • Chinese (Putonghua), Developmental phonology, Speech disorders