Early Phonetic and Lexical Development A Productivity Approach Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2001
Early Phonetic and Lexical Development
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Lorraine McCune, EdD
    Department of Educational Psychology, GSE, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
  • Marilyn M. Vihman
    University of Wales Bangor
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: mccune@rci.rutgers.edu
Article Information
Development / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2001
Early Phonetic and Lexical Development
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2001, Vol. 44, 670-684. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2001/054)
History: Received September 1, 2000 , Accepted February 5, 2001
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2001, Vol. 44, 670-684. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2001/054)
History: Received September 1, 2000; Accepted February 5, 2001
Web of Science® Times Cited: 69

Researchers frequently examine the development of the single-word lexicon in the absence of phonetic data. Yet a large body of literature demonstrates relationships between the phonetics of babble and early speech, and it is clear that production skill is essential for establishing a lexicon. This study uses longitudinal productivity criteria to establish children’s phonetic skill. Twenty children were followed from age 9 to 16 months, and their level of consistency of vocal patterns was examined in relation to their lexical production, providing a relatively largesample demonstration of phonetic/lexical relationships at the transition to language. Number of specific consonants produced consistently across the months of observation predicted referential lexical use at 16 months, whereas the transition to reference itself signaled the onset of a sharp increase in numbers of different words produced in a session. The earliest referential speakers exhibited prior consistency in the production of [p/b], which also predominated in their words. Prior use of at least two supraglottal consonants characterized the referential group. Children varied in the specific consonants they produced consistently, and these same consonants, varying according to individual child repertoire, characterized nearly all consonant-based words produced by each child in both of the final 2 months of observation. These findings are interpreted in relation to the children’s contemporaneous development of representational ability and pragmatic skill.

Acknowledgments
We gratefully acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation (NSF 4-2 0205 BNS 83-19753) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (PHS 4-2 2992 PHS HD 11731).
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