Original Research

Assessment of speech intelligibility in five South-Eastern Bantu languages: Critical considerations

Marlene C. Jacobson, Anthony Traill
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 33, No 1 | a319 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v33i1.319 | © 2019 Marlene C. Jacobson, Anthony Traill | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 November 2016 | Published: 31 December 1986

About the author(s)

Marlene C. Jacobson, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Anthony Traill, Department of Linguistics, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

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Abstract

This paper examines criteria underlying the development of tasks and materials for the measurements of speech intelligibility in five South-Eastern Bantu languages. The chief considerations include utterance length, word familiarity and structure, and phonetic balance. It is established that the foundation research necessary for devising materials in South-Eastern Bantu languages on the same basis as those of English has not yet been conducted. Salient properties of the relevant African languages include multilingualism, dialectal variation, vocabulary differences between rural and urban speakers of the same language, borrowed words, the simple vowel systems, the fairly elaborate consonant systems, prosodic features, certail syllable structure characteristics, and noun morphology. A rationale for the use of two measures of intelligibility is presented, while the need to adapt many criteria characterising English materials is demonstrated.

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