Quantifying changes in ultrasound tongue-shape pre- and post-intervention in speakers with submucous cleft palate: an illustrative case study

Zoe Roxburgh, Joanne Cleland, James M Scobbie, Sara Wood

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Ultrasound Tongue Imaging is increasingly used during assessment and treatment of speech sound disorders. Recent literature has shown that ultrasound is also useful for the quantitative analysis of a wide range of speech errors. So far, the compensatory articulations of speakers with cleft palate have only been analysed qualitatively. This study provides a pilot quantitative ultrasound analysis, drawing on longitudinal intervention data from a child with submucous cleft palate. Two key ultrasound metrics were used: 1. articulatory t-tests were used to compare tongue-shapes for perceptually collapsed phonemes on a radial measurement grid and 2. the Mean Radial Difference was reported to quantify the extent to which the two tongue shapes differ, overall. This articulatory analysis supplemented impressionistic phonetic transcriptions and identified covert contrasts. Articulatory errors identified in this study using ultrasound were in line with errors identified in the speech of children with cleft palate in previous literature. While compensatory error patterns commonly found in speakers with cleft palate have been argued to facilitate functional phonological development, the nature of our findings suggest that the compensatory articulations uncovered are articulatory in nature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages32
JournalClinical Linguistics & Phonetics
Early online date8 Sep 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Sep 2021


  • ultrasound tongue imaging
  • submucous cleft palate
  • articulatory analysis covert contrast

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