Dialects are not disorders
When evaluating and treating our clients with speech sound disorders, it is important to keep in mind dialectal variations. If our clients have a dialectal variation, this does not mean that they automatically have a speech sound disorder.
Keep in mind...
- A dialect is a variation of a symbol system used by a group of individuals that reflects and is determined by shared regional, social, or cultural/ethnic factors.
- For example, we have the southern, eastern, midwestern, and western dialects in America.
- An accent is a different variation of a language that sounds different.
- For example, there is American English, United Kingdom English, and Australian English.
- A language disorder is an impairment in comprehension and/or use of spoken, written, and/or other symbolic systems.
Here are some examples of dialectal differences we may see when evaluating and treating clients. There are certain speed sound constructions that are acceptable and rule-based in each dialect that might show up as an error and lead to a disorder diagnosis, but it's not a disorder, just a dialectal variation.
Southern American English (regional)
- /ɛ/ and /i/ merge into /ɪ/.
- "twenty", "Memphis", and "Missouri"
- /ɪ/ for /i/ at word endings.
- "really" and "story"
- /aɪ/ diphthong reduced to /a/.
- "fairwood", "vine", and "prize"
- use /n/ rather than /ŋ/ at word endings.
- "runnin" vs. "running".
- derhotacization of /ɝ/ to /ɜ/.
- "nurse" and "rare"
Eastern American English (regional)
- Produce /a/ instead of /ɑ/.
- "long" and "car"
- "hopper", "anywhere", and "here"
- Use /ʊ/ instead of /u/.
- "room", "goose"
- Vowel merger of /ɔ/ and /ɑ/ to /ɜ/.
African American English (social)
- Different variations of AAE, depending on location.
- Final consonant deletion
- “school” to “schoo”
- Substituting sounds (stopping)
- “they” to “day”
- “them” to “dem”
- Cluster reduction
- “roads” to “roas”
- Derhotacization and R-deletion
- “Horse” to “hose”
- “dɝt” to “dɜt”
Spanish Influenced English
- May display difficulty with the stress of words (sounds and patterns)
- Cluster reduction
- “district” to “distric”
- Use /u/ instead of /ʊ/.
- “disease” to “diseaze”
- “yellow” to “jellow”
Asian/Pacific Influenced English
- Including speakers with different first languages, (Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese).
- Some languages are tone languages where intonation is phonemic.
- There are no consonant clusters resulting in cluster reduction.
- Errors will often include the addition of a vowel:
- Epenthesis: inserting a vowel at the end of the word.
- "glue" to "gəlu".
- There are few final consonants so they are often deleted.
- "district" to "distri"
- "start" to "sta"
- For Vietnamese speakers /p/ becomes /f/
- /l/ and /r/ are often mixed (liquid interchange).