Susan Meyers Fosnot
Phonet. Lab., UCLA Dept. of Linguist., 405 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90024
David M. Alessi
Gerald M. Sloan
Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90054
The development of American /r/ (characterized acoustically by a low third formant) in one speech therapy patient (SR, 6;6) after surgical intervention is documented. SR was originally referred to speech therapy for several speech disorders. Most were corrected in less than one year, though he still could not produce American /r/, probably due to restricted movement of his tongue. Fine control of the tongue body and pharyngeal narrowing are necessary for production of /r/. SR exhibited restricted vertical movement of the tongue body due to a banded tongue base and restricted posterior movement of the tongue body and root due to enlarged tonsils. Surgery (tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, and frenuloplasty) was indicated for reduction of SR's occlusive sleep apnea. By hypothesis, these procedures would also alleviate any physiological basis for SR's inability to produce /r/. Recordings were made of multiple repetitions of /r/ in 16 phonological contexts on two occasions before surgery. Two more recordings were made after surgical recovery. (If SR does not develop /r/ after surgical intervention, additional recordings will be made after further speech therapy.) Acoustical analysis of these recordings documents SR's development of /r/, and the efficacy of surgical intervention on his speech.