The paper explores the syllabic and segmental dimensions of phonological vowel disorder. The independence of the two dimensions is illustrated by the case study of an English-speaking child presenting with an impairment which can be shown to have a specifically syllabic basis. His production of adult long vowels displays three main patterns of deviance – shortening, bisyllabification and the hardening of a target off-glide to a stop. Viewed phonemically, these patterns appear as unconnected substitutions and distortions. Viewed syllabically, however, they can be traced to a single underlying deficit, namely a failure to secure the complex nuclear structure necessary for the coding of vowel length contrasts.
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