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This glossary relates to some of the aspects of speech-language pathology contained in this web site, and like the site in general it has an an emphasis on clinical phonology and children’s speech development and disorders.
The Award for Continuing Education (ACE) is a formal recognition of professionals who have demonstrated their commitment to lifelong learning by earning 7.0 American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) CEUs (70 contact hours) within a 36-month period.
The alveolar ridge is the hard, bony, bumpy ridge between the top of the upper teeth and the hard palate. We can only produce, or articulate, the sounds of speech by moving body parts (by contracting and relaxing muscles), and by making air move.
The principal articulators are the tongue, lips, the lower jaw, the teeth, the soft palate (velum), the uvula and the larynx (voice box).
The Mutual Recognition of Professional Association Credentials (MRA) Signatories are ASHA, NZSTA, IASLT, RCSLT, SAC and SPA.
An audiogram is a graph of hearing thresholds measured in decibels hearing level (dB HL) as a function of speech frequency measured in Hertz (Hz).
The one shown above (without the faces) and below (with faces) is a pure tone audiogram showing mild bilateral, high frequency hearing loss.
In typically developing infants there is a gradual emergence of increasingly complex and speech-like utterances during the first two years of life.
Babbling proceeds in three stages: Precanonical, Basic Canonical Syllables, and Advanced Forms. Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a relatively rare Speech Sound Disorder (SSD) in which a child has difficulty planning and sequencing the movements required for speech, and difficulty with prosody. In 2007 the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) published a Position Statement  and Technical Report on this significant speech sound disorder.
A cleft is a birth defect caused by failure of the mouth parts to fuse during early foetal development. A consonant is a speech sound in which the airstream is obstructed (at the place of articulation).
Consonant Harmony is a phonological process (or phonological pattern) in which one sound influences the way another sound in a word is pronounced.
This analysis provides a view of the child’s unique system without reference to the target (adult) phonology. The relational analysis provides a normative comparison between the child's speech sound system and an idealised version of the target (adult) system. A dental consonant is one in which there is approximation or contact between the teeth and another articulator. Developmental patterns or developmental processes are speech simplifications produced by children that are found in typical development.
In 2011 the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) in the UK officially adopted the term Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia (DVD) in preference to Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) – the preferred term of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (see the Glossary entry for Childhood Apraxia of Speech, above).
A fricative is a consonant made by forcing air though a narrow gap, generating a voiced or voiceless hissing sound.
Idiopathic is an adjective used mainly in medicine meaning arising spontaneously or from an obscure or unknown cause.
Initial Consonant Deletion (ICD) is a phonological process (phonological pattern) that occurs when a child omits the first sound of many (but not necessarily all) words or syllables. The International Phonetic Alphabet is a system used to write down the sounds, syllables, intonation and separation of words in spoken language. The International Phonetic Association (IPA) is responsible for the development of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). Some experts define multisyllabic words as words of more than one syllable, and others define them as words of more than two syllables.
Non-developmental patterns or non-developmental processes are speech simplifications produced by children that are not found in typical development.
Obstruents, shown on the PVM Chart above, are consonants made by obstructing the airstream.
Phonetic transcription is the process of writing down a person’s speech using phonetic symbols.
Phonemic or phonological development is the gradual acquisition, by children, of an adult-like speech sound system. Phonological analysis is one component of Independent Analysis (see the Glossary entry for Core Speech Assessment Battery.
A phonological disorder is a speech sound disorder that affects the phonological (phonemic) level. For a listener, the most obvious characteristics of phonological disorder are the child’s poor intelligibility, and the presence of homophony (homonymy).
Phonological disorder is sometimes referred to as a Speech Sound Disorder that occurs at the linguistic, cognitive or language level. The phonological processes include Final Consonant Deletion, Velar Fronting, Stopping, Gliding, Liquid Simplification, Cluster Reduction, Weak Syllable Deletion, etc.


Consonants are made by obstructing or constricting airflow at some point in the vocal tract.
Consonants are classified in terms of their place of articulation, manner of articulation and voicing.
This happens as part of the initial assessment process carried out by a speech-language pathologist. Screening assessments are used to decide whether an aspect of speech and language requires further investigation. The first type of screening described above is a public health role, to be carried out by health and education professionals including preschool and school teachers. Selectively mute children can speak but only do so with certain people or in certain places.
The soft palate (velum) extends from the rear of the hard palate nearly to the back of the throat, terminating in the uvula. In Australia speech-language professionals are called Speech Pathologists and their professional association is called the Speech Pathology Association of Australia, generally referred to as Speech Pathology Australia (SPA). The professional associations in the US and Canada call their members Speech-Language Pathologists or Orthophonistes in French Canada. The professional association in New Zealand calls its members Speech-Language Therapists, and the association in South Africa calls its members Speech Language Therapists.
Stammering is a synonym for Stuttering (see the Glossary entry for Stuttering below) and is the more commonly used term in the UK. We know that if a child is not stimulable for a sound there is poor probability of short-term progress with that sound.
The place-voice-manner (PVM) chart above shows four voiceless stops (bilabial, alveolar, velar and glottal) and three voiced stops bilabial, alveolar and velar). Syllable Structure Processes (also called Structural Processes) are speech simplifications made by children in which the structure of a syllable or word changes.These phonological processes include the developmental processes of Reduplication, Final Consonant Deletion, Cluster Reduction and Weak Syllable Deletion, and the non-developmental patterns of Initial Consonant Deletion, Deletion of Unmarked Cluster Element, and Final Vowel Addition. Systemic Processes (also called Substitution Processes) are speech simplifications made by children in which a consonant is replaced by a different (incorrect) consonant.
The vocal cords (or vocal folds) are composed of twin bands of mucous membrane stretched horizontally inside the larynx (voice box). A vocal cord nodule is a mass of benign tissue that grows on the vocal folds (vocal cords) affecting the sound of an affected person’s voice.
The vocal tract comprises the air passages from above the larynx to the lips and from above the larynx to the nostrils.
In speech, vowels are the class of sound which makes the least obstruction to the air stream. Close, mid-close, open-mid and open refer to how high the tongue is elevated in the mouth for the production of a particular vowel. The chart does not show the three lip positions for vowel production, namely: rounded, neutral or spread. The ACE is awarded only to those who earn ASHA CEUs through participating in the ASHA CE Registry. Most of the movements for speech take place in the mouth and throat, and the chest where breath is controlled. This period of non referential vocalisation is generally recognised as a foundation for meaningful speech and phonological development, and is called babbling. For example in Pennsylvania SLPs who work in the public school system have to maintain state licensure and this requires 20 hours of continuing education every 2 years. The ASHA definition of CAS includes apraxia of speech in children irrespective of aetiology (that is, whether idiopathic or acquired). The RCSLT definition, in its 2011 Policy Statement on DVD includes apraxia of speech in children in its idiopathic presentation, excluding from the definition children with acquired apraxia of speech.
Some babies are born with cleft lip only, and this may be unilateral (affecting one side of the lip) or bilateral (affecting both sides). It is a grid with manner of articulation on the vertical axis and place of articulation on the horizontal axis. It comprises the Percentage of Consonants Correct (PCC) in single words and conversational speech (if possible), the Percentage of Vowels Correct (PVC) in single words and conversational speech (if possible), a phonological analysis, a phonotactic analysis, and a syllable stress pattern inventory. They include Final consonant deletion, Reduplication Weak syllable deletion, Cluster reduction, Context sensitive voicing, Depalatalization, Fronting (fricatives, velars), Alveolarization (stops.
It is a learned code, or rule system that enables us to communicate ideas and express wants and needs.
Examples include: ambulance, hippopotamus, computer, spaghetti, vegetables, helicopter, animals, caravan, caterpillar, and butterfly.
The manner of articulation is the type of obstruction that occurs in the production of a particular consonant. They include Initial consonant deletion (ICD is found in the typical development of Finnish, French and possibly Hebrew), Intrusive consonants, Backing (stops, fricatives, affricates), Denasalization, Devoicing of stops, Sound preference substitutions (Systematic sound preference), Deletion of unmarked cluster element, Glottal replacement and Final vowel addition.


It comprises the hard palate which runs from the alveolar ridge at the front of the mouth to the beginning of the soft palate (velum) at the back; and the soft palate, which extends from the rear of the hard palate nearly to the back of the throat, terminating in the uvula.
Phonology, as an area of study, has shown that spoken language can be broken down into a string of sound units (phonemes), and that each language has a small, relatively fixed set of these phonemes.
Phoneme collapses are seen as compensatory strategies that are organised according to aspects of adult system in terms of place and manner of articulation and voicing. The phonetic level takes care of the motor (articulatory) act of producing the vowels and consonants so that we have a repertoire all the sounds we need in order to speak our language(s). Speech-language pathologists in Australia and most of the world use the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to do this. The phonological or phonemic level is in charge of the brainwork that goes into organising the speech sounds into patterns of sound contrasts so that we can make sense when we talk. Many children with pragmatic difficulties have unusual prosody and problems with knowing exactly how to modulate both voice and speech.
The aim of such screening is to provide early identification, so as to provide treatment at the earliest appropriate opportunity or as a preventative measure. The experienced speech pathologist makes judgements about the priority status of each newly referred child in order to make best use of resources and monitor the urgency and needs of those being referred.
For example, the screening assessment of the DEAP allows the therapist to gain a quick overview of the child’s articulation and phonology in order to establish whether or not to carry out full diagnostic testing. During speech, the amazing range of well-controlled movements the tongue can make includes tip-elevation, grooving, and protrusion.
It is a measure of energy transmission through the middle ear, and the results are represented as a tracing on a tympanogram. Speech-language pathologists do not assess or treat people with voice disorders until the person’s larynx has been inspected by an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist. If an ASHA certified SLP does not have an ACE award, it does not mean that that person has not been earning CEUs. NZSLT, IASLT, RCSLT and SPA membership does not include audiologists and audiologists in New Zealand, Ireland, the UK and Australia have separate professional associations. The face symbols on the graph represent the average speech level in each frequency region for conversational speech (59 dB SP at 1 m) spoken by an adult female. Most have a receptive-expressive gap, understanding language much better than they can use it to express themselves.
The (pulmonic) consonant chart is below, followed by the most recent version of the Full Chart (IPA, 2005). To produce nasals the soft palate must be lowered to let air escape past it and down the nose. Analysis in terms of phoneme collapses provides a holistic assessment of child’s speech that is child-based rather than adult-based (Williams, 2000a). These features include pitch, intonation (the rise and fall of the pitch of the voice), stress (emphasis), rhythm, voice quality, loudness and rate.
A selectively mute child has an anxiety disorder and appropriate management is by a clinical psychologist or child psychiatrist. For more information see the Glossary entry for Certificate of Clinical Competency (CCC) above.
CAS is regarded as a severe SSD and its incidence is less than 1% of a typical speech pathology caseload. Where there are two symbols in a cell the one on the left is a voiceless consonant and the one on the right is a voiced consonant. The Stops, Fricatives and Affricates are termed obstruents, and the Nasals, Liquids, Glides, AND VOWELS are termed sonorants.
At the same time the soft palate must close off the opening to the oral cavity to prevent air from escaping through it. The following example is of a phoneme collaps of one sound to many occasioning extensive homophony (different words pronounced the same way).
The parts of the tongue are the tip, front (the widest part), back (from the back teeth to the pharynx), and root (where it joins the lower jaw). The sound itself is very quiet, but it is amplified by the resonators (cavities) it the head, neck and chest. Any child who is backing should be referred to a speech-language pathologist for assessment.
Despite the similar sounding name, CAS is a different disorder from Apraxia of Speech (AOS) in adults, with different characteristics.



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