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Review of  Phonetics for Communication Disorders

Reviewer: Rita V. Mathur
Book Title: Phonetics for Communication Disorders
Book Author: Martin J. Ball Nicole Müller
Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Issue Number: 16.3480

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Thu, 1 Dec 2005 11:16:43 -0800 (PST)
From: Rita Mathur
Subject: Phonetics for Communication Disorder

AUTHORS: Ball, Martin J.; Muller, Nicole
TITLE: Phonetics for Communication Disorders
PUBLISHER: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
YEAR: 2005

Rita Mathur, Visiting faculty member, AYJ National Institute for Hearing
Handicapped, and SNDT University, Mumbai, India.

The book has three parts. Part 1 (Chapters 1-9) deals with General
Phonetics, part two (Chapters 10-18) with English Phonetics, and part
three (Chapters 19-20) with Disordered Speech. An audio CD is
provided along with the book. Two appendices containing IPA (rev
1993) along with extra IPA symbols for disordered speech (rev. 2002)
and voice quality symbols (VoQS), are included. Moreover, Distinctive
features, Phonological Primes for English and Natural phonological
processes, are included in the body of the book. Solutions to audio
CD transcription exercises are given in the end of the book. Each
chapter is supported by exercises and a further reading list.


Chapter 1 ''Phonetic Description'': This chapter introduces
the ''speech chain'', highlighting the three main areas of study within
phonetics: the study of speech production, the study of speech
transmission, and the study of speech reception or perception. Thus,
it deals with articulatory phonetics, acoustic phonetics and auditory
phonetics, respectively. The authors have introduced speech chains
in a simple manner. Diagrammatically shown speech chain candidly
manifests the 'Production ability' (P), 'Hearing ability' (H) and
the 'Creative ability' (C) which is active in both speaker and listener
throughout the communication process.

Chapter 2 ''The organs of speech'' deals with the vocal tract. The
vocal tract is defined as the entire respiratory system from the lungs
up to the oral cavity and nasal cavity, and the vocal organs within the
vocal tract having primary functions not connected to speech. The
difference is being brought out precisely between the vocal tract and
vocal organs.

Chapter 3 ''Initiation of an Air stream'' introduces the aerodynamics of
the air stream initiation and principle types of air stream mechanisms.

Chapter 4 ''Phonation and Voice Quality'' explains various aspects of
the phonation and supralaryngeal aspects of voice quality.

Chapter 5 ''Description of vowels'' introduces articulatory, acoustic
and perceptual aspects of vowels. All the cardinal vowels are
described in the chapter and accompanying CD gives the audio
version of the vowels. In this manner, the learner gets hands on
session to know the pronunciation of the vowels.

Chapter 6 ''Articulation: Consonant Manner Types''. This chapter
covers a detail introduction of Stops, both Oral and Nasal. Fricatives,
Affricates, Approximants, Trills and Taps, Obstruents and Sonorants.

Chapter 7 ''Articulation: Consonants Place Types''. This chapter
encompasses place of articulation. The terms like Labial, Anterior,
Lingual, Dorsal, and Posterior are explained with the help of diagrams
making the chapter very conducive. Authors have included acoustic
description of consonants along with the articulatory description.

Chapter 8 ''More on Consonants''. This chapter broadens the horizon
of articulation by introducing modified oral stops and multiple
articulations. The acoustic characteristics are dealt with in the same
chapter. The chapter concludes with an IPA chart. Audio demonstration
of released, non released and affricated release is very conducive.
Demonstration also includes co articulation and secondary

Chapter 9 ''Suprasegmental Phonetics'' introduces Stress, Length,
pitch, Boundary effects and other prosodic features along with there
acoustic characteristics. In a clinical setting, the identification of stress
placement is very important when the speech is highly unintelligible.
Thus, a systematic description of 'prosody' and 'dysprosody' is

Chapter 10 ''Phonetics and Phonological Description'' highlights the
salient features of English phonetics and phonology bringing out the
differential phonological systems and structures.

Chapter 11 ''Monophthongs of English'' introduces the high front,
lower back and high back vowels. The transcription is well included in
the end.

Chapter 12 ''English Central Vowels and Diphthongs'' introduces non
rhotic central vowels, rhotic central vowels, the mid closing
diphthongs, the low closing diphthongs, the fronting closing
diphthongs and the centering diphthongs substantially.

Chapter 13 ''English Plosive and Affricates'' converses about the
bilabial, alveolar, velar plosives ; the post alveolar affricates and the
glottal stop.

Chapter 14 ''English Fricatives'' introduces the labiodentals, dental,
alveolar, post alveolar, and glottal fricatives.

Chapter 15 ''English Sonorant Consonants'' discusses the nasal
stops, liquid approximants and semi vowel approximants.

Chapter 16 ''Words and connected speech'' elaborates English word
stress, stress in connected speech. It also deals with a few
phonological processes like, assimilation, elision and liaison, and

Chapter 17 ''Intonation of English'' introduces Nuclear Tones and post
nuclear patterns, prenuclear tunes, and intonation tunes.

Chapter 18 ''Varieties of English''. This chapter highlights the ways in
which accent can differ. Substantial information is given on national
varieties of English, regional differences in American English and
Spanish influenced English. Keeping so many varieties what could be
the possible phonological problems for the learners of English is also

Chapter 19 ''Phonological and Phonetic Disorders''. This part of the
book deals with the terms phonetics and phonology in the description
of the disordered speech.

Chapter 20 ''Transcribing Atypical and Disordered Speech''
elaborates most of the possible aspects of atypical and disordered
speech. Elaborates atypical places and manners of articulation,
voicing. Authors have tried to resolve the uncertainty in transcription.


The intended audience of this book is described as ''the students who
will go into becoming speech language pathologists''. This book is also
useful, firstly for speech pathologists that have to be conversant in
speech science, secondly for students of linguistics learning
phonetics, and thirdly for linguists who are interested in varieties of
English, perhaps for pedagogical reasons. Even speech pathologists
have to be conversant with the dialectal variations of the language,
mainly because they should not analyze a variation as a speech

There are many concepts which are distinguished in the book. For
instance, the authors emphasize the difference between vocal tract
and vocal organs. The vocal tract is defined as the entire respiratory
system from the lungs up to the oral cavity and nasal cavity, and vocal
organs within the vocal tract having primary functions that are not
connected to speech. Moreover, the vocal tract is that through which
air is drawn ('tract' is cognate with 'tractor' and refers to pulling
something) when we speak. Although this description is consistent
with those given by Ladefoged (2001) and Laver (1994), the
emphasis on the difference between the two is helpful for a beginner
to acquire the concepts without any ambiguity. Moreover, the authors
have elaborated the description of the respiratory, laryngeal and
supra-laryngeal systems in such a way that a student can understand
and grasp the subject without any difficulty. Another salient feature of
the book is that it treats both the articulatory and acoustic properties
of sounds. The concepts are well illustrated with ample figures and
diagrams. Finally, the authors have elucidated the principles of air
pressure along with their relevant locations with examples. The
description of initiators, compression and rarefaction, and By using the
CD, readers can get good training in recognizing and pronouncing
ejective, implosive and click sounds.

Since phonation and voice quality both are important aspects for
speech language pathologists, the authors have described difficulties
regarding voice quality in detail. The explanation of phonation types is
supported by plenty of diagrams and illustrations, inclusive of
articulatory, physiological and acoustic dimensions. A detailed
description of the location of the phonatory activities is included.
These activities may take place in the anterior portion of the vocal
folds, some may take place in the posterior portion and some may
take place all along the folds. An audio presentation in CD for all these
activities gives a clear description of normal, ventricular and
diplophonia or double voice types. An audio demonstration of falsetto
phonation is not included, as this has no linguistic use. All other types
of phonations are demonstrated.

The system and structure of English is dealt with at length, enabling a
speech language pathologist to master the structural and functional
aspects of English phonetics. The sounds that are covered are
recorded on the CD as a part of the exercises. Solutions for the
exercises are given in the end of the book. A very good audio
demonstration of non-pulmonic and pulmonic sounds clearly manifests
their respective articulatory gestures. To me it appeared as a sort of
hands-on session in phonetic training. Besides this, central and lateral
fricatives are also very well demonstrated.

The book includes a substantial discussion of clinical phonology,
including aspects of 'atypical' and 'disordered' speech. Atypical
speech is defined as clients using sounds that have not been
recorded in natural language or found rarely. On the other hand,
disordered speech covers disruptions at the phonological and
phonetic level. Compare Crystal (1981), who defines ''phonological
disability'' as an abnormal phonological system with a normal phonetic
realization, and ''phonetic disability'' when the phonological system is
normal but its phonetic realization is abnormal. Both disabilities may
be present simultaneously. Grunwell (1977) defines phonological
disability simply as ''the use of abnormal patterns in the spoken
system''. In atypical speech, consonants may be produced using a
variety of atypical places and manners of articulation, but atypical
vowels are not found. Even if the vowels are produced within the
vowel space when the tongue tip and body are protruded, still the
articulation of the vowels would be within the vowel area. Finally, the
description of the extra IPA symbols for the transcription of disordered
speech is extremely useful for speech language pathologists.

In conclusion, I highly recommend this book to be included in a
course of speech language pathology and for the students in
linguistics. Even for teachers, it seems to me as a 'must have' kind of


Crystal, D. (1981) Clinical Linguistics. Springer-Verlag /Wien.

Grunwell, P. (1977) The nature of phonological disability in children.
London: Academic Press

Ladefoged, P. (2001) A Course in Phonetics. Thompson Learning.

Laver, J. (1994) Principles of Phonetics. Cambridge University Press.

The reviewer is a visiting faculty member in the department of speech
and language pathology, AYJ National Institute for hearing
handicapped, Mumbai, India. She is also visiting faculty in linguistics in
SNDT University, Mumbai. Her research interest is in phonetics and
corpus linguistics. Currently she is working on acoustic cues for the
perception of sounds in children.

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