January 24, 2011

Multilingual norms

Last year the following book chapter was published:

McLeod, S. (2010). Laying the foundations for multilingual acquisition: An international overview of speech acquisition. In M. Cruz-Ferreira (Ed). Multilingual norms (pp. 53-71). Frankfurt: Peter Lang Publishing.

A review of the book, Multilingual Norms has been published in the Journal of Linguistics and Language Teaching (JLLT), vol.2(1). It concludes: " Altogether, the current publication, edited by Madalena Cruz-Ferreira, can be regarded as highly valuable for teachers, researchers and language clinicians. The authors successfully present an eminently readable book which is based on solid empirical research and which hopefully finds the readership it deserves."

Website containing the review
Madalena Cruz-Ferreira's blog

January 20, 2011

AusTalk: An audio-visual corpus of Australian English

I am an associate researcher on the Australian Research Council project to map Australian speech. The project is titled AusTalk: An audio-visual corpus of Australian English. Australian speech will be recorded across the entire country, including at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst.
On Australia Day (26th January), the AusTalk project will be launched, and soon after, Australians' speech will begin to be recorded.
AusTalk website
ABC News

January 19, 2011

Congratulations Jane!

Jane McCormack has received her excellent PhD examination reports while visiting Bathurst with her supervisors (A Prof Linda Harrison, A Prof Lindy McAllister). We have been working on a postdoctoral fellowship application to continue Jane's important research. Recently, Jane has commenced a lecturing position in speech pathology at CSU. We look forward to seeing Jane's continued contribution to the profession and to children with speech, language, and communication needs.
Jane McCormack and her PhD supervisors Sharynne, Linda Harrison and Lindy McAllister
More details about Jane's PhD can be found here

January 14, 2011


Te reo Māori (the Māori language) is spoken by the Māori people of New Zealand.

Around the year 1300 AD, seven boats containing the Māori people left their home in Rangeātia, Tahiti and travelled to Aotearoa (literally, the land of the long white cloud, and later called New Zealand). Six boats settled in the North Island and one in the South Island. The Māori people were warriors, and are known for the haka (performed internationally by New Zealand rugby teams), poi dancing, tattoos, carving, and weaving.
In written Māori there are 5 vowels: a, e, i, o, u
10 consonants/diagraphs: p, t, k, m, n, ng, wh, h, w, r
  • Short vowels are pronounced as /a, e, i, ɔ, u/
  • Long vowels are indicated with a macron: ā, ē, ī, ō, ū
  • Long and short vowels are phonemic. For example, keke (cake), kekē (creak), kēkē (armpit).
  • The consonant ‘t’ sounds like /t/ before the vowels i and u, but /d/ before the vowels a, e, o
  • ‘wh’ is pronounced as ‘f’(or possibly a bilabial fricative, such as found in Japanese)
  • ‘r’ is a tap/flap, but there are dialectal differences
Important words

  • kia ora (welcome)
  • tēnā koe (hello to one person), tēnā kōrua (hello to two people), tēnā koutou (hello to three or more people)
  • tēnā koe (thankyou to one person), tēnā kōrua (thankyou to two people), tēnā koutou (thankyou to three or more people)
A Māori proverb I like is:

  • Ui mai koe ki ahau he aha te mea nui o te ao, Māku e kī atu he tangata, he tangata, he tangata! (Ask me what is the greatest thing in the world, I will reply: It is people, it is people, it is people)
Staff and information at the Te Puia Māori Cultural Centre, Rotorua
Niwa, H. (2009). Pronounce Māori with confidence. Auckland: Reed Publishing.
Reed, A. W. (2001) The Reed concise Māori dictionary (6th ed). Auckland: Reed Publishing.

Sharynne and Jessica talking with a Maori elder who has worked in early childhood education throughout her life. We were at at Te Puia, the Maori Cultural Centre in Rotorua

January 13, 2011

New Zealand vs. Australia

New Zealand and Australia are often said to have sibling rivalry. In many ways their culture and history are similar, with white (British) people settling in each country at similar times. There are many similarities between New Zealand and Australian English consonants, vowels and diphthongs. The most noticeable difference is in the pronunciation of the high front vowels ‘i’, ‘e’ and ‘a’. Speaking the phrase “fish and chips” is one way many people use to differentiate these two dialects of English. Another area of difference is the vast size of Australia vs. the compactness of New Zealand. Australia’s size means the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people speak hundreds of different languages. In contrast, Māori is the same (although with some dialectal differences) throughout New Zealand.

Asia Pacific Conference on Speech, Language and Hearing, Christchurch, New Zealand

The 8th Asia Pacific Conference on Speech, Language and Hearing was conducted from 11-14 January. It was held at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. The program listed around 120 papers from 23 different countries. Here are the papers my colleagues and I presented:
  • McLeod, S. Crosslinguistic speech acquisition in Australia.
  • McLeod, S. Becoming bilingual: Children’s insights about sequential bilingualism.
  • McLeod, S. & Baker, E. Australian speech pathologists’ assessment and analysis practices for children with speech sound disorders from English and non-English backgrounds.
  • McCormack, J., Harrison, L. J., McLeod, S. & McAllister, L. A population study of children identified with communication concerns in early childhood: Parent, teacher and child reported outcomes at school-age.
  • Crowe, K., McLeod, S. & Ching, T. Oral languages and communication modes used by children with hearing loss in Australia.
I particularly enjoyed listening to the key note address provided by Kathy Lee (Chinese University of Hong Kong) titled: "When a SLP meets a psychometrician: The journey of constructing assessment tools"

Conference website

Professors Manwa Ng (Hong Kong), Nan Mai Wang (Taiwan), Kathy Lee (Hong Kong), and Sharynne

Kate Crowe, Jane McCormack, Sharynne in New Zealand


Tongan is spoken by the people in the Kingdom of Tonga. Fifty two of the 176 Tongan islands in the South Pacific archipelago are inhabited.
Tongan consists of
5 vowels: a, e, i, o, u
12 consonants: p, t, k, m, n, ng, f, v, s, h, l, ‘
The consonants p, t, k sound voiced to English speakers.
Unlike English, Tongan words can commence with ng.
The ‘ is phonemic as can be seen in the following Tongan words:
  • la’a = sun vs. laa = sail
  • tu’i = king vs. tui = believe in God
  • ‘ivi = Eve vs. ivi = energy
Here are some of the words I have learned:

  • malo e lelei (hello)
  • malo (thank you) 
  • ‘alu ā (goodbye, if you are staying)
  • nofo ā (goodbye, if you are leaving)
Biblical words are “transliterated” using Tongan consonants and vowels: Semisi (James), Mele (Mary).

Children from Tonga, New Zealand, and Australia

While visiting New Zealand, my family and I spent time with an Australian Tongan family. They come to New Zealand annually to visit relatives, to participate in the Tongan church, and keep in touch with their language and cultural heritage. We were invited to join them at the Saturday beach picnic that followed the Tongan church’s week of prayer. There were about 100 people at the picnic: from grandmothers to babies and all the children played and were cared for by the whole community. People ate, shared stores in Tongan and English, swam, kayaked, and later the men and boys played rugby league in the ankle-deep water.

We were very welcomed and I learned a lot about Tongan culture and language, particularly from two women: one who is a social worker working with Pacifica people, and one who is a high school teacher. Some of the things that they mentioned are that church and community is very important. At church events there is always a lot of food so that no one in the community is hungry. Women are respected. Tongan people are happy, and will often laugh seemingly for no reason. Not all of the grandparents can speak English, so speaking with their family is one motivation for children to learn and retain Tongan. My friends are fortunate to be able to visit New Zealand annually to retain their family, cultural and linguistic heritage.

Hugo (2010) describes circular migration in Australia where many families migrate from their homeland, to Australia, to their homeland, and back to Australia. Many more families in Australia have circular visiting where this pattern occurs regularly, but for shorter periods of time. This circularity in Australia’s people continues to enhance our cultural and linguistic diversity and heritage.

Hugo, G. (2010). Circularity, reciprocity, and return: An important dimension of contemporary transnationalism. ISSBD Bulletin, 58(2), 2-5.