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is it a matter of Acquisition or a Speech Organ Defect?

Updated on May 11, 2019
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Interested in writings articles about some linguistic and anthropological issues, and about other issues.

Since this phenomenon is very serious to this extent, the following questions should be raised: is it a matter of a speech organ defect or acquisition? Is this problem remediable or not?

1.introducing the problem

Some people in Galmima and Tinjdad in Morocco use the sound / n / in the place of the sound / l /. This latter seems to be absolutely absent. This phenomenon is very serious in the sense that some words lose their meaning because these two sounds are different phonemes and not allophones of the same phoneme. If the people of the cited regions speak English, for instance, most words of this language that contain the sound / l / will be absent and they will be replaced by with their counterparts. For instance, the word * light * and * night * differ only in terms of the first phoneme. If we substitute the sound / n / for / l /, the word * light * will be pronounced as *night*. So, in this case there is no difference between *light*and *night* in terms of pronunciation. This substitution makes the word * light * to lose its meaning.
Since this phenomenon is very serious to this extent, the following questions should be raised: is it a matter of a speech organ defect or acquisition? Is this problem remediable or not?

The problem of substitution of / n / for / l / is not a result of a defect in the speech organ that are responsible for the pronunciation of the sound / l /. This demonstrated by some educated people who use the sound / n / and / l / in their right position. That is to say, the people of the regions mentioned above are able to pronounce the sound / l /.

To see if the substitution of / n / for / l / is a matter of acquisition or not, we will display some experiments have been done for the purpose of solving this problem.

2.experiments

Experiment 1: we took a two year-old child who was, of course, in holophrastic stage, and we tested him to see if he could make distinction between / n / and / l /. We found that this child was able to distinguish these two sounds provided his parents use words that contain these tow sounds, otherwise he will not make any distinction between them.

Experiment 2: a four-year old child and six-year old child who do not pronounce the sound / l /absolutely were taken from one of the two places, where of course, this problem is diffused, to the city of Agadir, where the sounds / n / and / l / are used in their right position. After these two children had spent for one year in this city, they were able to pronounce the sound / l / and to distinguish it from the sound/ n /.

Experiment 3: a person, from one of the two places, taught some parts (surats) of the holy Quran to a nine-year-old child, from Ouarzazate, who had no problem with these two sounds. When this child had learnt by heart those parts, he read them with the pronunciation of his teacher, that is, he replaced the sound / l / with / n / as his teacher did.

3.results

Through these three experiments, we conclude that the problem of replacing/ l / with / n / is just a matter of acquisition and not a matter of a defect in the speech organs, or a matter of any other factors. On this basis, this problem is remediable and can be eradicated absolutely if the future generations of the mentioned regions take it into consideration. That is, these generations must make their children to be aware of making distinction between / n / and / l / by offering an environment in which these sounds are properly used in their right positions. This must be done in the first stages of acquisition in which the child begins to acquire the language of his parents. In addition, these generations must not be self-closed, that is, to be open to the people of the nearby regions where this problem does not exist.


© 2019 ABDELMAJID YAQOUBY

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