What is Phonology?
Phonology can be described as an aspect of language that deals with rules
for the structure and sequencing of speech sounds. Every language has a wide variety of speech
sounds (phonemes). For example in English, the ng sound, as in ring, will never appear at the
beginning of a word. Phonology rules also determine which sounds may be combined. For
example, the combination of dn will not appear in sequence in the same syllable.
What are phonological Processes?
Phonological processes are patterns of speech found in many typically developing children. For example,
weak syllable deletion is when a child deletes syllables from a multisyllabic word. A child may say, nana rather than saying, banana, a child
may also delete final consonants from words, cu for cup. Phonological processes become
problematic when they do not disappear by a certain age. There is developmental data that
indicates when phonological processes typically disappear. There are different norms for
What is the difference between an articulation disorder and a phonological disorder?
Most professionals characterize a child with an articulation disorder as someone who has difficulty
producing a few phonemes and the child’s errors may be linked to oral motor weakness and/or
normal development. A phonological disorder may be characterized as a child who has
numerous phoneme errors that can usually be grouped into categories (phonological processes),
and they are usually not linked to oral motor difficulties and/or normal development.
What may speech therapy be like for a child with a phonological disorder?
There are various therapy approaches for phonological disorders. One approach is to focus on the
phonological processes rather than focusing therapy on remediating errors phoneme-byphoneme. For example, if a child presents with final consonant deletion, then all final
consonants may be targeted during therapy. The goal is to teach the child that the meaning
changes when final consonants are left off. This may be done through play, using pictures,
and/or using minimal word pairs. Minimal pair therapy is when you show a child two pictures
representing words that differ by only one sound. If you are targeting the phonological process
of final consonant deletion, then the target pictures would be one picture of an object ending in a
vowel and one picture of an object ending with a final consonant. For example, toe/toad,
my/mile, ray/rain etc. The clinician would show the child the 2 pictures and ask the child to
point to toe and then point to toad. The clinician would be looking to see if the child understands
that the two words have different meanings. The clinician would then move on to have the child
practice saying the words appropriately.
What is phonological awareness?
Phonological awareness can be described as an
understanding of the ways in which speech can be manipulated and divided into smaller parts.
This includes: rhyming; segmenting words and syllables; along with blending sounds and
syllables. Improving phonological awareness skills has been shown to help with reading
readiness skills and improve literacy development.
If you suspect your child has a phonological disorder, you may want to contact a speechlanguage pathologist for a full evaluation.
What is Phonology?