Working Smarter Not Harder: The Place-Voice-Manner Analysis

Do you feel like it takes a long time to complete test administration and post-assessment data analysis? You’re not alone!

A national survey found that speech-language pathologists reported spending three to three and a half hours per child in assessment.1 This is a formidable time commitment given the number of children who need to be assessed. We need to learn methods that will help us work smarter, not harder.

Using the frameworks of relational analysis and independent + relational analysis, two different time-efficient analyses, place-voice-manner (PVM) analysis and system phonological analysis of child speech (SPACS), can help SLPs work as linguistic detectives to describe the rules and identify the order in the disorder without taking too much time. These two analyses provide options so that the SLP can choose which to use depending on whether the child they are assessing has a mild to moderate speech sound disorder (SSD) with common error patterns or a moderate to severe SSD with unusual error patterns.

In this article, part two of a four-part series, PVM analysis is considered. In part one of this series, we looked at the differences between independent and relational speech sound disorder analyses. In part three, we’ll look at SPACS, and then we will conclude by putting everything together to help SLPs choose the most appropriate analysis method for the case at hand.

Place-Voice-Manner Analysis: A Relational Analysis

A place-voice-manner analysis (PVM) is a relational (or error) analysis that describes a child’s error patterns in terms of the three broad categories of consonant production—place, voice, and manner.

It is similar to the phonological process analysis (PPA) because processes also describe error patterns with regard to changes in place, voice, or manner. For example:

  • “Stopping” changes the manner of production from fricatives to stops.
  • “Fronting” changes the place of production from velar to alveolar.
  • “Voicing” or “devoicing” obviously changes the voicing characteristic of the target sound.

The PVM analysis is actually older than PPA but was overshadowed by the more user-friendly terminology of phonological processes. Since both analyses generally describe error patterns according to the three categories of consonant production, we will use the widely accepted terminology of phonological processes while using the visually helpful PVM analysis form, which provides quick identification of the error patterns.

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The PVM Analysis Form

Looking at the PVM analysis form, developed by Thomas Powell at Indiana University in 1982, you will see that the form organizes the consonants in this way:

  • Manner: Along the top row of the form, the consonants are organized according to manner (nasals, fricatives, affricatives, liquids, and glides).
  • Place: Within each Manner class, the consonants are listed according to place of production from the most anterior to the most posterior place of production.
  • Voice: Voiced consonants are shaded. Voiceless consonants are not shaded.

Below each consonant, there is a grid of three rows. Each row corresponds to the three word or syllable positions:

  • Nasal clusters
  • Word-initial or pre-vocalic position: #___
  • Word-medial or intervocalic position: V__V
  • Word-final or post-vocalic position: ___#

At the bottom of the form, boxes are included for different clusters:

Nasal clusters

  • /l/ clusters
  • /r/ clusters
  • /w/ clusters
  • /s/ clusters

The last two boxes on the bottom right provide spaces to include the child’s:

  • Phonetic inventory
  • Summary of predominant error patterns,  which we will list in terms of phonological processes

How to Complete a PVM Analysis

1. Transfer the child’s error productions onto the PVM analysis form using color coding.

Error productions are recorded in red for the target sound and position while correctly produced target sounds are recorded in blue or black. Clusters are marked in the appropriate boxes using blue or black tallies for correct production (for example, br – l) and red to specify error (b/br). Note that deletions are indicated with the null sign (Ø).

2. List the sounds produced by the child in the Phonetic Inventory box.

You have two choices when it comes to listing the sounds produced. You can choose to list the sounds by using a relational analysis technique in which you list the sounds that were produced correctly. Alternatively, you can use an independent analysis technique in which you list all the sounds the child produced, regardless of accuracy.

3. Summarize the predominant error patterns.

The PVM form uses color coding to provide a clear visualization of the child’s error patterns, allowing the SLP to easily identify errors as occurring within a particular Manner (for example, fricatives), Place (t/k), or Voice (t/d).

You can then list the most predominantly occurring error patterns—those in which several red errors were recorded.

To see a sample data set and an example of a PVM analysis, watch chapter three of the MedBridge course, “Assessment and Differential Diagnosis of Speech Sound Disorders in Children.”

A PVM analysis is relatively simple and quick to complete. While it provides similar information as a PPA, it takes less time and provides a visual representation of the error patterns, making it easier to select treatment targets and communicate results to parents and teachers.

  1. Skahan, S., Watson, M., & Lof, G. (2007). Speech-language pathologists’ assessment practices for children with suspected speech sound disorders: results of a national survey. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 16: 246-259.