15. New School Phonology and Cloud Computing

To rebuild our views of how phonology works in schools — in the school community — we are wise to return to some old notions from structural linguistics entailing communities of speakers using a common abstract code having some tolerance for variation (dialect, style, accent) as agreed to by the speakers. A child who uses an extreme variation of the code will produce discomfort for teachers and other children.

Code-use resembles modern cloud computing where individual computers belonging to a network of users have only minimal code hardware and software and the main system has a vast set up to interpret permissible and impermissible variations.  

In this world there are no handicapped persons and certainly no social judgments about users.  Only concern when the individual user does not exceed tolerable limits.

The training trick is to get every user to use the code properly.  It would not matter whether an Hispanic child has an accent and an white child has a medically-based phonological disability.  Understanding the right use of the code is key.

So many children with poor articulation development do not need to be in special education.

Teachers could teach linguistic principles in their literacy lessons as Leonard Bloomfield envisioned late in his career.  Lessons could be fun as the code is manipulated for humor and drama.  This type of freedom to play with language would be excellent preparation for literacy startup.

“You say Tomayto, I say Tomawto.”


Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


Jose who?

Jose can you seeeeee….

Speech-language pathologists could use comical and lively prosody lessons too, setting up paradigms designed for fun and success without much out of context focus on dreary old target sounds.

“Teacher!  Leave us kids alone!”

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