Semin Speech Lang 2002; 23(1): 057-068
DOI: 10.1055/s-2002-24969
Copyright © 2002 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA. Tel.: +1(212) 584-4662

Minimal Pair Approaches to Phonological Remediation

Jessica A. Barlow1 , Judith A. Gierut2
  • 1Department of Communicative Disorders, San Diego State University, San Diego, California and
  • 2Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
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Publication History

Publication Date:
02 April 2002 (online)


This article considers linguistic approaches to phonological remediation that emphasize the role of the phoneme in language. We discuss the structure and function of the phoneme by outlining procedures for determining contrastive properties of sound systems through evaluation of minimal word pairs. We then illustrate how these may be applied to a case study of a child with phonological delay. The relative effectiveness of treatment approaches that facilitate phonemic acquisition by contrasting pairs of sounds in minimal pairs is described. A hierarchy of minimal pair treatment efficacy emerges, as based on the number of new sounds, the number of featural differences, and the type of featural differences being introduced. These variables are further applied to the case study, yielding a range of possible treatment recommendations that are predicted to vary in their effectiveness.