Phonological Process: Assimilation

This is part 3 in the 3-part series on phonological processes. We are covering all of the substitution processes.

Devon Lawrey, CCC-SLP
By Devon Lawrey, CCC-SLP
August 15, 2023
Phonological Process: Assimilation

This series on phonological processes will be broken up into three sections: syllable structure, substitution, and assimilation. This article will focus on the assimilation.

What are phonological processes?

Phonological processes are patterns that children use to simplify their speech.

Substitutions Phonological Processes:

Assimilation Caregiver Friendly Definition: When a consonant is changed to sound like another one in the word Example: “pup” for cup Age of Elimination: 3 years old

Denasalization Caregiver-friendly Definition: Nasal sound (N, M, NG) is replaced with a nonnasal sound Example: “bine” for mine Age of Elimination: 2.5 years old

Final Consonant Devoicing Caregiver Friendly Definition: A voiced consonant (buzzy sound) is replaced with a voiceless consonant (quiet sound) at the end of a word Example: “bat” for bad Age of Elimination: 3 years old

Prevocalic Voicing Caregiver Friendly Definition: Voiceless consonant (quiet sound) is replaced with a voiced consonant (buzzy sound) at the beginning of a word Example: “dop” for top Age of Elimination: 6 years old

Coalescence Caregiver Friendly Definition: When two phonemes are replaced with one phoneme that has similar features Example: “foon” for spoon Age of Elimination: 6 years old

Reduplication Caregiver Friendly Definition: A syllable is repeated Example: “wawa” for water Age of Elimination: 3 years old

Note: I always use caregiver friendly terminology. We are most likely explaining these processes and how they impact speech to the caregiver (and maybe the child dependent on their age). Using speech jargon creates a division between you and your cleints caregivers. It may be confusing or intimidating for them. Providing examples allows them to look for these patterns in their child’s speech as well.

Looking for speech jargon definitions? Check them out in our phonology treatment targets

Topics discussed in this article:

Devon Lawrey, CCC-SLP

Devon Lawrey, CCC-SLP has been practicing speech therapy throughout the state of Michigan for six years. She has her Master's Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Western Michigan University. Her passion in life is collaborating with families to support their child's individual communication needs and improve their overall quality of life.