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Child Bilingualism: A Bilingual Child’s Lexical and Phonological Features

Introduction

Multilingualism is not a unique phenomenon in a multilingual nation such as the Philippines. In fact, this archipelagic tropical country speaks more than 170 languages and dialects (Yap, 2008). Usually, a Filipino’s first language is his/her native language. They often use this language in mundane events and in everyday communication. More often than not, most Filipinos learn other languages in school or through media. For instance, the Philippines’ national language, Filipino, is spoken by 85.53% of the Filipino population as their first or second language (Nolasco, 2008).  This language is often used as teaching instructions in school. Moreover, it is also the language frequently used by the national media and the government. Aside from their mother tongue and their national language, Filipinos speak their respective regional lingua francas such as Cebuano, Ilokano and Hiligaynon. Finally, English is also widely spoken in the Philippines as it is considered as a second language or L2 by most Filipinos. Just like the national language, English is also introduced in school and is mostly used in formal endeavors like academic and government events. The Filipinos’ knowledge in English as their L2 was described in a research done by the Social Weather Stations in 2008. The research showed that 76% of the adult Filipinos could understand spoken English; 75%  could read English; 61% could write English; 46% could speak English; 38% could think in English; while 8% were not competent in any way when it comes to the English language (as cited in Nolasco, 2008).

Cebu City, the oldest city in the Philippines, is a great local example of a bilingual/multilingual community. People, Cebuanos particularly, use different languages in different domains. At home, parents usually either speak to their children in their mother tongue (Bisaya) or in English. In school, the medium of instruction is both in English and Filipino. Some schools, like Sacred Heart – Ateneo de Cebu, even teach children foreign languages such as Mandarin Chinese. Moving on, Cebu’s community language is bilingual in nature, Cebuano Bisaya – English. It is evident in local media, especially in feature and variety shows where hosts tend to code switch and code mix the two languages. And since Cebu is a fast developing metropolitan city, its media coverage is not only limited to local channels which use Cebuano Bisaya-English as their language. National channels (GMA, ABS-CBN, etc) using Filipino-English language and even international channels (Disney, National Geographic, etc.) which use the English language are also readily accessible to the Cebuano viewers.

Aims of the Study

This study aims to investigate the lexical and phonological features of childhood bilingualism in a local setting. The concerns on phonological similarity/differentiation and lexical overlap/exclusivity between the two languages are two of the enduring concerns in this phase at present. The study aims to examine each dichotomy, what constitutes naturally on the chosen bilingual child and how each feature affects the other. Furthermore, it is to understand the language background–parental and environmental strategies—and how it affects bilingual language development of the chosen bilingual child.

Child Profile (due to confidentiality issues, names were replaced with nicknames and abbreviations)

Baptismal Name:       Yana

Birthdate:                   April 25, 2010

Persons who interact with the child:

Grandmother :

Lydia

Uncles:

Don

Mark

Sam

Aunts:

Fe 

Dawn

Their educational background and first languages:

Grandmother :

Lydia – Cebuano-Bisaya

Uncles:

Don – Nautical; Cebuano-Bisaya

Mark – Cebuano-Bisaya

Sam – Cebuano-Bisaya

Aunts:

Fe – Teacher; Cebuano-Bisaya

Dawn – Secretarial; Cebuano-Bisaya

Languages they use the child, and with one another:

Everyone in the household dominantly speaks to the child and with one another in Cebuano-Bisaya.

Approximate number of hours/time of the day spent with the child:

Grandmother :                                                

Lydia – 24/7

Parents:

Shiela – Only an hour or two in the morning before going to work and at

nighttime after work (Monday – Saturday); whole-day of Sunday

Izra – Only an hour or two in the morning before going to work and at

nighttime after work (Monday – Saturday); whole-day of Sunday

Uncles:

Don – before and after work

Mark  –  before and after work

Sam – before and after work

Aunts:

Fe Trinidad – before and after work

Maria Donna Cawaling – before and after work

METHODOLOGY

The researchers conducted the study twice. The first session was on August 6, 2014 at 1:30 pm, where the child was eating and playing with her mother and yaya (househelp). On the second session last August 8, 2014 at 4:00 pm, the child actively interacted with the researchers. The child answered mathematical flashcards, read texts, colored things in her coloring book and talked to the researchers while eating. The researchers observed how the child mingled with other family members (cousin, mother and yaya), recorded the conversations using an iPhone, and listed down the words uttered by the child. The first session was about 30 minutes long while the second session lasted for about 40 minutes. The phonological features and lexical features of the child’s utterances were described and analyzed.

PHONOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT

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One of the first things children learn in language are sounds. In fact, children learning a language undergo different phonological processes as they are developing their speech and language. Children’s pronunciation of words, in an early stage of about a year old up to 4 years old, will mostly be incorrect. These incorrect pronunciations of words are what we call as phonological deviations.

In the current study, the bilingual child’s phonological deviations are mostly on substitution process, particularly ‘stopping’ where she substitutes a stop consonant with a fricative or an affricate.

Eg.       Math: /mat/ instead of /mæθ/

Thirty: /tɝtI/ instead of /θɝdI/

Three: /trI/ instead of /θrI/

            According to Samantha Deutsch, a speech language pathologist, “stopping is very common and is present in many young children’s speech.” This phenomenon is usually corrected as the child matures. Typically, stopping ceases between the age of 3-5 years old depending on which sounds are being substituted. (Phonological Processes: Stopping, 2013)

            The bilingual child in this study also exhibits other types of phonological deviations such as unstressed syllable deletion, where she deleted the unstressed syllable of the Cebuano-Bisaya word ‘naay’ and pronounced the word as ‘nay’, total reduplication wherein the child repeated the whole word ‘balik’ and pronounced it as ‘balik-balik’ to describe her teachers.

            Another notable phonological deviation present in this paper’s bilingual child is focused more on the vowels. The current researchers were not able to classify them according to the phonological processes offered by Ingram (1976) because most of Ingram’s phonological processes focus more on the consonants. Here are some examples of the bilingual child’s utterances which the current researchers classified as ‘others’:

Eg.       I am: ‘I /am/’ instead of ‘I /æm/’

One: /wan/ instead of /w^n/

Cousin: /k^zn/ instead of /kazn/

This phenomenon is surely unique to this bilingual child, or possibly to other Filipino bilingual children as well, because it seems like that the child is ‘Philippinizing’ the pronunciation of the English words. This phonological deviation will surely be corrected and eliminated after the child learns the pronunciation of the vowels in the vowel triangle.

LEXICAL DEVELOPMENT

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The researchers elicited a total of 256 words from the bilingual child.  This includes words both in English and in Cebuano-Bisaya. Of the 256 words elicited from the child, 78 words or 30% of the data were specific nominals, 71 words or 28% of the data were modifiers, 38 words or 15% of the data were general nominals, 35 words or 14% of the data were action words, 21 words or 8% of the data were personal-social words, and 16 words or 6% of the data were functional words.

            The dominance of specific nominals in the bilingual child’s utterance perhaps strengthens what scientists call ‘naming insight’. In the phenomenon of ‘naming insight’, scientists believe that children understands words in two ways – that “words are names for objects” and that “every object has a name.”


This study was a paper done by Linguistics and Literature students as a requirement for Bilingualism class. 

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Random Rants and Sighs

I’m really troubled right now. You that kind of feeling that you are aware that you are being a couch potato but you’re freaking not doing anything about it? Ugh. I feel helpless. I feel like a rock. Or yeah, a couch potato.

 

And because of this, things have piled up – thesis paper, data gathering, bilingualism paper, org meetings, swim practice…. And I’m nervous as hell. But heck, I only slept a while ago and finished reading a paperback instead of reading related literature for the theoretical background of our thesis. GAAAAAAAAAAAH!

 

My mind wants to do it. My mind also doesn’t want to do it. My body is weak. 

 

—That’s it. I still have swim training.

 

PS

Don’t you think it’s a defense mechanism or something? Nvm =.=

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Through the Eyes of a Survivor

After a terrifying experience in Leyte, I have arrived in Cebu on the midnight of November 18.

No. I am not a refugee. I did not wish to escape from Leyte – I love my hometown. I really wanted to help in rebuilding our place but my parents wanted me to continue my studies so here I am right now – in Cebu, enjoying petty little things that my family in Leyte lacks – electricity and an abundance of cold drinking water. But we’ll get to that later.

THE NIGHT BEFORE THE STORM

We have been hearing news about a coming typhoon all week so we had our preparations. BUT, for me (I am not speaking for other Leyteños), we (my family) have underestimated the storm.

That night, my youngest sister and I got home late. We attended a church activity just near the village. My mom was in our room, had the air- conditioning on and was watching the latest movies on my father’s laptop. My other sister was in the living room, surfing the net. We were acting like it’s a normal day because for us, it is. We have been through all typhoons of different intensities that we thought that this would just pass quietly like the others.

TYPHOON HAIYAN/YOLANDA ARRIVED

I woke up at around 7:30 am because of the loud noise that the drops of rain made on our roof and the loud growling of the wind. That was the first time I heard the wind growl so loud – it was like the sound the wind makes when you’re riding an open-air bus. At that time, the typhoon was not at its strongest YET.

I noticed that we didn’t have electricity and my phone can’t connect to any GLOBE and SUN signal. Still, I didn’t mind. By the way, only us girls were at home – my brother has gone back to Mindanao for college and my father was in PASAR. I’m guessing he was assigned to look after their department’s office as the storm comes through. My mother was cooking breakfast in the kitchen while my sisters were at the main door, taking pictures and videos.

At that time, the wind was already very strong. I’ve never seen those tall Christmas-like trees in our compound’s basketball court (we live near it) bend so low before. And I’ve noticed that many families who lived down the lower area of our compound have evacuated in the bowling area (behind the basketball court). Several cars were parked outside. A fire truck was helping the people evacuate.

So I guess this typhoon is something after all. Then BOOM! The wind suddenly rushed on soooo fast! The noise it makes – that unforgettable and fearful noise of air gush – it was as loud as the sound you hear when a plane you’re riding on takes off. And that went on for four hours. It was agonizing.

My sisters went inside the living room because it was starting to get dangerous outside. We only looked through our windows. Every tree we see were almost bowing. GI sheets were flying together with laundry basins and garbage bins. As I turned my gaze towards the basketball court, the metal score place which was taller and heavier than me was not only toppled down but also jumping. YES, the wind was really strong that I can still here it this instance.

Water was starting to come through our glass sliding doors. My sisters and I tried to cover it dry with rags but to no avail – rain water just keeps seeping through. I can see through the sliding doors our mango trees which were planted by my lolo. They were all dangerously bowing towards the house. Seeing that the wind was getting stronger and stronger, and the water was continuing to seep through – my sisters and I started to carry the TV, and family pictures to the master’s bedroom. I then started to open the windows.

My sister tried to stop me saying that the air and rain would wet our living room. But I could not forget what my physics teacher, Mr. Ed Quiñones taught us. The pressure outside was greater than that inside our home and it’s seeping through. If I don’t open up, our roof would fly and we’d all be wet. So I continued to open windows up. The wind together with the rain came through the windows and flooded the living room.  We can all but stare and silently pray. We stayed back in the boys’ room (the girl’s room was already wet and the masters’ bedroom was full-packed).

We ate our lunch in the boys’ room.

Then BANG! Our glass sliding door shattered! Something flew and hit it so hard. A great burst of the fast, chilly wind came through the living room. The wind ravished on and on. For the first time, I doubted the strength and durability of our home. While my mom and I tried to get the water out of the house, I can’t help but mumble. Why is this happening? Why is the water in the living room still deep? Ugh, our house is the only leaking house in the compound…

MINUTES AFTER THE STORM

When the wind had subsided, we went outside to look around.

I was humbled down by the storm. My complaints – they were bratty. My mom, siblings and I were more fortunate than my neighbors. Most of them have dilapidated roofs, and they even are wetter than us. And for the first time, my hometown changed. The once lush green background has become apocalyptic. It was as if a wet wildfire existed and ravished the leaves of the trees. Everywhere I set my eyes on was disaster. I could not believe it. For 19 years of living in that compound, this was the first time a great change occurred in the village and in the town itself.

My sisters and I walked around, trying to take in the bigger picture. It really was devastating – GI sheets were scattered everywhere. There were even some on lamp posts. Speaking of lamp posts, some lamp posts near the village’s beach were cut in half or were dangerously slanting down towards the street. These and a large fallen mango tree have obstructed one of the major streets of our village. The road to the airstrip was worse. Almost all the lamp posts have lied down on the streets and a housing made of light materials cannot be recognized anymore. It has turned into shambles. And yes, most of the houses didn’t have roofs anymore. The trees, their luscious greens were all but lost.

DAYS AFTER THE STORM

MY ‘ESCAPE’

HOPES OF THE DISASTER ABATING

(to be edited/continued…)

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The Brighter Experience

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These are things I never thought a catastrophe would let me experience. After the calamity, our days would always begin as early as 5:30 in the morning, or as long as the sun has already shined through our windows. By that time, my family and I, as well as my neighbors, are already up and awake busying ourselves for breakfast. Soon after, we would all huddle in the dining table and gulp on hot drinks together with a simple hot meal. My father would later go to work while we do the house chores which usually consist of the laundry, the dishes and the home cleaning. Since our province’s electricity is still under the mend, we do all the chores manually. Doing the laundry is tiring but is fun and refreshing at the same time since I get to dip my hands in cold water during a sunny electric fan or aircon-less day. Cleaning the house isn’t much of a problem either. Because we often don’t stay inside due to the temperature, there’s always less clutter. Cooking is also fun. We often cook traditionally even if we still have LPG because LPG supplies in Leyte were limited. At first, it was really hard to build a fire. My sisters and I often get teary-eyed because most of the smoke goes to our eyes, but through practice and my mom’s patient guidance, we got better. In the afternoon, when the sun’s heat strikes the most, we often stay in the living room with the windows and the sliding doors open. We would turn our battery-operated radio on and listen to the music or news or simply talk about anything under the sun. When the sun is about to set, we would build a fire again. I tell you, the cooking experience outside is really best at night. Numerous fireflies would float about near the almost leafless trees around us. There’s also the bright full moon together with the star-studded evening sky which constantly keeps the night visible. While waiting for the food to cook and for my father to arrive, we would all chat happily once again. Then, we would have a nice and warm candle-lit dinner. After washing the dishes, and listening to music or news updates on the radio, we would finally sleep in the boys’ room, the only room in the house where the cool night breeze passes through, at about 8 PM. Indeed, I never thought that our lives as survivors would be this productive, interesting and positively memorable.

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What Makes A Filipino: Values and Beliefs

Originally posted on Pilosopo Tamad:

A nation empowers itself depending on the beliefs, goals, ideals, aspirations, and values of its citizens. In order to achieve national unity and progress, it needs the full cooperation of its people. Values as a people and as a nation gives the identity that differentiates one race from the others. These values may improve or hinder development and progress but nonetheless, with unity of diversity, development and progress are achievable.

A Filipino holds strengths that most other nationalities admire but there are also weakness that makes him a laughing stock of its foreign neighbors.

STRENGTHS

  1. Close Kinship- a Filipino considers family as an important social structure that they must love and care. Close family ties results to the family still being intact regardless that the children are old and with families of their own.
  2. Respect for Elders- the use of “po” and “opo” in conversing or addressing older people is a sign of a Filipino’s…

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Panda and the Hedgehog

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(photo credits: asianwiki.com)

I just finished watching this korean drama entitled Panda and the Hedgehog. And boy it was so great! That previous expression I made is even an understatement.

I won’t make summaries of the plot, you can find it anywhere. I’ll just share my experiences, comments, and violent reactions while watching the said drama. 

The title itself has first drawn me into this drama. It’s very unique. Then comes the leading man, Donghae of Super Junior!!! Lalalalala~~~~ I didn’t know he acts. (but nah, most idols act now, right?) Donghae’s not a bad actor, and I really think he did his role really well. 

*alert! spazz girl alert!* His character was perfect! The bad guy outside but soft and mushy romantic inside type of guy…ugh…I so like him :3

And the other lead guy tooo!!!!! The one who acted as Choi Won Il. He did very very well. 

*alert! spazz girl alert!* He’s so adorable, and cute despite his tall stature….and his naive character.. not to mention his smile. T^T killed me several times while watching this series. It really tears me apart… I wanted both of the actors to have happy endings…and I’m g… no. no spoilers XP

Okay, that was weird, so let’s move on. I think what makes this one of the best korean dramas I’ve ever seen is that it’s based on a firm storyline. I mean, the story was greatly crafted – the foreshadowing, the tag lines, everything including the great cast! And the ending – oh my gee I REALLY LOVE THE ENDING! You know, one thing I noticed about korean dramas is that the story is slowly and excitingly climbing to its peak, the climax, but as it wears off…the story closes of not as a BANG! but as a *poof!* You know what I mean? It’s like the screenplay writer or the story writer/whatever-you-call-the-one-who-writes-the-story got tired of making all those plots so he/she just made up something in the ending hurriedly. 

BUT the ending of Panda and the Hedgehog is sooo unexpected, sooooo great, DAEBAK — !!! It makes the viewers think of what happened, it makes the viewers itch and scrunch up their noses….then leaves the viewers smiling while clapping their hands until the end. It’s really worth the sleepless nights. I really miss these kinds of Kdrama – light and well-crafted. :) And I almost forgot to mention how great and cute those cakes are :3