Journal of Linguistics

Prosody and melody in vowel disorder 1

a1 University College London
a2 Royal College for Sick Children, Edinburgh
a3 University College of St Mark & St John, Plymouth


The paper explores the syllabic and segmental dimensions of phonological vowel disorder. The independence of the two dimensions is illustrated by the case study of an English-speaking child presenting with an impairment which can be shown to have a specifically syllabic basis. His production of adult long vowels displays three main patterns of deviance – shortening, bisyllabification and the hardening of a target off-glide to a stop. Viewed phonemically, these patterns appear as unconnected substitutions and distortions. Viewed syllabically, however, they can be traced to a single underlying deficit, namely a failure to secure the complex nuclear structure necessary for the coding of vowel length contrasts.

(Received October 9 1997)
(Revised August 5 1998)

c1 Author's address: Department of Phonetics and Linguistics, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, England, U.K. E-mail:
c2 Author's address: Department of Speech and Language Therapy, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Sciennes Road, Edinburgh EH9 1LF, Scotland, U.K.
c3 Author's address: Department of Human Communication Disorders, University College of St Mark & St John, Derriford Road, Plymouth PL6 8BH, England, U.K.


1 An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Fourth Symposium of the International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association, New Orleans, November 1994. An abridged draft appeared in UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 9 (1997). Our thanks are due to the following for helpful comments: Nigel Hewlett, Jim Scobbie, Neil Smith and two anonymous JL referees. Thanks also to Geoff Lindsey for his contribution to the case-study research.