The Interaction Between Vocabulary Size and Phonotactic Probability Effects on Children's Production Accuracy and Fluency in Nonword Repetition

Edwards, Jan; Beckman, Mary E.; Munson, Benjamin
April 2004
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Apr2004, Vol. 47 Issue 2, p421
Academic Journal
Adults' performance on a variety of tasks suggests that phonological processing of nonwords is grounded in generalizations about sublexical patterns over all known words. A small body of research suggests that children's phonological acquisition is similarly based on generalizations over the lexicon. To test this account, production accuracy and fluency were examined in nonword repetitions by 104 children and 22 adults. Stimuli were 22 pairs of nonwords, in which one nonword contained a low-frequency or unattested two-phoneme sequence and the other contained a high-frequency sequence. For a subset of these nonword pairs, segment durations were measured. The same sound was produced with a longer duration (less fluently) when it appeared in a low-frequency sequence, as compared to a high-frequency sequence. Low-frequency sequences were also repeated with lower accuracy than high-frequency sequences. Moreover, children with smaller vocabularies showed a larger influence of frequency on accuracy than children with larger vocabularies. Taken together, these results provide support for a model of phonological acquisition in which knowledge of sublexical units emerges from generalizations made over lexical items.


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