Estimating When and How Words Are Acquired: A Natural Experiment on the Development of the Mental Lexicon Purpose Sensitivity of subjective estimates of age of acquisition (AOA) and acquisition channel (AC; printed, spoken, signed) to differences in word exposure within and between populations that differ dramatically in perceptual experience was examined. Methods Fifty participants with early-onset deafness and 50 participants with normal hearing rated 175 ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2008
Estimating When and How Words Are Acquired: A Natural Experiment on the Development of the Mental Lexicon
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Edward T. Auer, Jr.
    University of Kansas
  • Lynne E. Bernstein
    House Ear Institute
  • Contact author: Edward T. Auer, Jr., Department of Speech-Language-Hearing, University of Kansas, 1000 Sunnyside Avenue, Room 3001, Lawrence, KS 66045-7555. E-mail: auer@ku.edu.
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Hearing Disorders / Audiologic / Aural Rehabilitation / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2008
Estimating When and How Words Are Acquired: A Natural Experiment on the Development of the Mental Lexicon
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2008, Vol. 51, 750-758. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/053)
History: Received August 7, 2006 , Accepted September 9, 2007
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2008, Vol. 51, 750-758. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/053)
History: Received August 7, 2006; Accepted September 9, 2007
Web of Science® Times Cited: 10

Purpose Sensitivity of subjective estimates of age of acquisition (AOA) and acquisition channel (AC; printed, spoken, signed) to differences in word exposure within and between populations that differ dramatically in perceptual experience was examined.

Methods Fifty participants with early-onset deafness and 50 participants with normal hearing rated 175 words in terms of subjective AOA and AC. Additional data were collected using a standardized test of reading and vocabulary.

Results Participants with early-onset deafness rated words as learned later (M = 10 years) than did participants with normal hearing (M = 8.5 years), F(1, 99) = 28.59, p < .01. Group-averaged item ratings of AOA were highly correlated across the groups (r = .971) and with normative order of acquisition (deaf: r = .950, hearing: r = .946). The groups differed in their ratings of AC (hearing: printed = 30%, spoken = 70%, signed = 0%; deaf: printed = 45%, spoken = 38%, signed = 17%).

Conclusions Subjective AOA and AC measures are sensitive to between- and within-group differences in word experience. The results demonstrate that these subjective measures can be applied as proxies for direct measures of lexical development in studies of lexical knowledge in adults with prelingual onset deafness.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by Grants R01 DC02107 and R01 DC04856 from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. We thank Brian Chaney, Sheri Hithe, and Paula E. Tucker for their helpful advice and assistance.
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