Approximants in clinical populations

Stemberger, Joseph and Masso, Sarah and Cleland, Joanne; Ball, Martin J., ed. (2026) Approximants in clinical populations. In: The Phonetics and Phonology of Approximants. Equinox Publishing, Sheffield. (In Press)

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This chapter addresses the occurrence (or lack thereof) of approximants in speakers with speech disorders and differences, who produce output pronunciations that differ from those of typical adult speech. For example, an adult TARGET lateral approximant (e.g. /l/) might be output as something else (e.g. the semi-vowel [j]), a difference which is often referred to as an ERROR or a MISMATCH. Or a target non-approximant (e.g. the fricative /s/) might be output as the lateral approximant [l]. There are many different populations with speech disorders or differences, which differ along two primary dimensions: (1) the age at which the atypical speech arose, either developmental (from the very beginning, as far as is known) or acquired (e.g., due to a brain injury or degenerative condition), and (2) the locus of the problem, whether in the brain (e.g. phonological planning, motor planning), or peripheral (e.g. damage to nerves, muscles, or the vocal tract). Are some or all approximants subject to substantial error rates in some or all types of atypical speech? To what extent do problems with other speech sounds lead to errorful output of approximants in atypical speech?