LINGUIST List 12.2684

Sat Oct 27 2001

Qs: Phoneme Discrimination, Romanized Orthography

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  1. Ellen Gerrits, Methods for testing phoneme discrimination of very young children
  2. David Palfreyman, Romanized orthography

Message 1: Methods for testing phoneme discrimination of very young children

Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 16:33:23 +0100
From: Ellen Gerrits <>
Subject: Methods for testing phoneme discrimination of very young children

Dear Linguist readers,

I have some questions about testing the phoneme discrimination of very
young children.

I want to test two groups of children of 18-20 months old: one group
of 60 children at risk for developing dyslexia (they have dyslexic
parents) and another group of 30 age-matched controls. The goal of
this experiment is to see whether there are differences between the
fine-grained perceptual abilities of the at-risk children and the
controls. This experiment is part of a large study of early language
development in SLI and dyslexia (prospective and comparative). The
same children will also participate in a Dutch replication of the
Santelmann & Jusczyk (1998) experiment, using the Headturn Preference

The stimuli I want to present are phoneme contrasts in monosyllabic
meaningful words like 'pear-bear', but maybe it is better to use nonce
words or a more salient phoneme contrast. The infants are only
available for one test session. I was thinking of using the Headturn
Preference Procedure as in Jusczyk and Aslin (1995), but maybe it's
better to use Stager & Werker's (1997) Habituation 'Switch' paradigm
(the 'bih'-'dih' experiment with the checkerboard) or the Visual
Fixation task, as used by Swingly and Aslin (2000). I think all tasks
have advantages as well as disadvantages. I hope you can give me some
advice on this.

Many thanks in advance.
- Ellen Gerrits
Ellen Gerrits
Utrecht institute of Linguistics OTS, Trans 10, 3512 JK Utrecht, The
Oproep deelname taalonderzoek:
Persoonlijke pagina:
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Message 2: Romanized orthography

Date: Sat, 27 Oct 2001 08:54:19 +0400
From: David Palfreyman <>
Subject: Romanized orthography

Hello list,

I'd like to ask about a phenomenon which I've noticed with Arab
university students, but I wondered if anyone has noticed it anywhere
else with a non-Roman orthography. I work in a university in the
United Arab Emirates, where students have easy access to the internet.
Although their computers are enabled to deal with Arabic script, due
to the ASCII-orientation of much of the software and websites they
come across, they often write Arabic (on Internet Messenger, for
example) using the Roman alphabet. However, they supplement this with
extra 'letters' for Arabic sounds which have no equivalent in the
Roman alphabet. For example, "hello" would be "mar7aba" - here the
"7" represents a pharyngeal aspirate which in Arabic is distinct from
an English "h" sound - the reason they use 7 in particular is because
it looks a bit like the Arabic letter for this sound. This convention
seems to be used fairly consistently but only by students - it's *not*
a standard Roman orthography for Arabic. My question is: Does anyone
know of other cases of informal orthographies like this - maybe for
languages normally written in Cyrillic or Chinese or other
scripts... or even maybe languages which are normally not written down
at all? 


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