Perception of Marathi consonant manner contrasts in children with and without hearing impairment

Aparna Nandurkar, Geetha Mukundan


Background: Very few published studies have reported phoneme contrasts in children with and without hearing impairment in Indian languages. The present study is aimed at comparing perception of manner contrasts in 6 to 8 year old Marathi children with normal hearing and those with hearing impairment using hearing aids and cochlear implants.

Methods: Two hundred 6 to 8 year olds participated across three groups: 106 with normal hearing (NH), 47 with hearing aids (HA) and 47 with cochlear implants (CI). Perception of four consonant manner contrasts was assessed using a four-alternative, forced choice picture-pointing task using recorded minimal pairs with CVC or CVCV words: a) Stop vs. Fricative; b) Stop vs. Nasal; c) Stop vs. Affricate and d) Aspiration.  

Results: All NH participants obtained ceiling scores for stop vs. fricative and stop vs. nasal contrasts. NH participants performed significantly better than participants with CI on all contrasts. Performance of HA participants was more variable and significantly poorer than the CI participants. Children implanted at or before 4 years of age and those using CI for more than 2.5 years performed consistently better on all contrasts as compared to those implanted after 4 years of age and using it for less than 2.5 years. Children fitted with HA at or after 2.5 years of age performed consistently better than those fitted before 2.5 years of age. Participants with average hearing aided thresholds 45 dB HL or lower (better) performed better than those with average aided thresholds above 45 dB HL.

Conclusions: Normative data on perception of various manner contrasts in Marathi is generated. Phoneme perception skills of children with NH are significantly better than those of children with CI and HA.


Manner contrast, Cochlear implants, Hearing aids, Normal hearing, Stops, Fricatives, Nasals, Affricates, Aspiration

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