The Impact of Lexical Factors on Children's Word-Finding Errors

German, Diane J.; Newman, Rochelle S.
June 2004
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Jun2004, Vol. 47 Issue 3, p624
Academic Journal
This retrospective, exploratory investigation examined the types of target words that 30 children with word-finding difficulties (aged 8 to 12 years) had difficulty naming and the types of errors they made on these words. Words were studied with reference to lexical factors that might influence naming performance: word frequency, age of acquisition, familiarity, and lexical neighborhood. Findings indicated that neighborhood density predicted word-finding success, and target word substitutions and error patterns manifested were affected by the lexical factors under study. Students tended to produce substitutions that were higher in frequency, learned earlier, and that resided in neighborhoods of greater density and higher frequency than the target word. Lexical factors also influenced children's error patterns. Neighborhood density predicted form-related errors: Children produced more blacked errors on words from sparse neighborhoods. Word frequency and neighborhood frequency predicted form-segment-related errors as phonologic errors occurred on rare words and words whose neighbors contained lower frequency, uncommon phonological patterns. This important first step in the examination of how lexical factors have an impact on word-finding errors in children suggests that different types of words are more likely to result in failures of lexical access at different stages of processing. Theoretical and practical implications of these preliminary findings are discussed.


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