Phonological Mean Length of Utterance (PMLU): A New Entity For Morphosyntax and Phonological Measurement
Phonological mean length of utterance (PMLU), a whole word measure is defined as the length of the child’s word productions (in segments) plus the number of correct consonants in each production divided by the total number of word tokens. Since this measure focuses on the length of the words, it partly reflects the child’s morphosyntactic development in addition to phonological proficiency. PMLU has been focused only on English and Finnish languages (Ingram, 2002 & Helin, Makkonen & Kunnari, 2006). Hence the present study attempted to determine the phonological mean length of utterance in native Kannada speaking children of 3 to 7 years age. A total of 112 subjects in the age range of 3-7 years participated in the study. They were divided into eight groups with 6 months interval, with 10 children under each group. Spontaneous speech samples were elicited from each child and analyzed for PMLU as per the rules suggested by Ingram (2002). Mann-Whitney U test and Kruskal Wallis test were conducted to see the differences between the means of PMLU scores across the gender and the age respectively. The results revealed a developmental trend with no gender differences in typically developing Kannada speaking children. The PMLU scores reported in the present study are higher in comparison to English speaking children. This suggests that Kannada speaking children are superior in the acquisition of morphosyntax as well as in their whole-word phonological proficiency than English speaking children. Hence, this measure could be regarded as a yardstick for phonological and morphosyntactic development and forms the basis of a developmental scale in Kannada speaking children. The present study further suggests the need for language specific research in order to develop PMLU method suitable for different language environment.