Phonological Acquisition of a CODA in Bengkala Deaf Community

This is a part of a whole project on investigating language (involving phonological, morphological, syntax, and semantic) acquisition of a hearing child born in a deaf community. This section only covers phonological acquisition only in the form of an abstract of a research writing. It was presented in ISMIL 12, Leiden, The Netherland. Thank you.

The research aimed at examining Indonesian phonological acquisition of a Child of Deaf Adults (CODA) in Bengkala Deaf community, Bali, Indonesia. This is based on the importance of the study on Indonesian acquisition. As people acquire language, they can communicate and express their ideas and feelings to others. There are several studies that have been conducted on this topic. In Indonesia, specifically, studies from Dardjowidjojo (2000) and Raja (2003) are noted to be the two first studies on language acquisition. However, they were all conducted in ‘normal’ situation. There is also a situation which is ‘not normal’, that is a hearing child born from deaf parents in a Deaf community (henceforth CODA). Based on that, the researcher is greatly interested in examining Indonesian phonological acquisition of a CODA living in a Deaf community in Bengkala village, Kubutambahan, Buleleng, Bali, Indonesia.

The study employed a single observational case study design in an ethnographic approach. The primary subject of this study is Ni Luh Ayu Ratna Dewi, and usually called Ayu. The secondary subjects were those who, hearing or deaf, were involved in the observed events to be among the interlocutors of the primary subject. This study was conducted for one year, from the onset age of 1;7 to 2;7. The data were mainly qualitative obtained mainly from the conversation among the hearing subject and deaf parents, deaf family, other families – deaf and/ or hearing –, inside and/ or outside their houses.

The findings of the study showed that the research subject followed the principle of universality in acquiring Indonesian phonological aspects. In terms of phonological acquisition, Ayu acquired five vowels, they are {[i], [ε], [a], [u], and [o]}, three vowel clusters, namely {[ia], [ua], and [iu]}, where semivowels [y] and [w] are inserted (epenthesis), and eighteen consonants, they are {[p], [b], [t], [d], [k], [g], [?], [s], [h], [c], [j], [m], [n], [ø], [ŋ], [l], [w], and [y]}. The researcher believes the subject’s acquisition on phonological aspects may develop in later acquisition. Even though some of the acquired features and the time to acquire those features were not precisely the same, the findings showed that Ayu’s acquisition in terms of phonological aspect is similar those other subjects, such as Echa and Mika in other studies of Indonesian acquisition. This is based on the biological basis of language acquisition, not chronological one, meaning that Ayu could produce certain phonological aspects when she was biologically mature or her speech organs are ‘ready’.

It can be concluded that the subject has undergone a universal principle of Indonesian phonological acquisition that covered order of acquisition, schedule of acquisition, Language Acquisition Device (LAD), language-specific and environment. The subject also acquired Balinese and some utterances of kata kolok that could serve as her fundamental concept of communication with the deaf.

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