Learning New Words Phonotactic Probability in Language Development Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 2001
Learning New Words
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Holly L. Storkel
    Indiana University Bloomington
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: hstorkel@ku.edu
  • Currently affiliated with the University of Kansas, Lawrence
    Currently affiliated with the University of Kansas, Lawrence×
Article Information
Development / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 2001
Learning New Words
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2001, Vol. 44, 1321-1337. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2001/103)
History: Received June 1, 2001 , Accepted July 13, 2001
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2001, Vol. 44, 1321-1337. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2001/103)
History: Received June 1, 2001; Accepted July 13, 2001
Web of Science® Times Cited: 224

Though the influences of syntactic and semantic regularity on novel word learning are well documented, considerably less is known about the influence of phono-logical regularities on lexical acquisition. The influence of phonotactic probability, a measure of the likelihood of occurrence of a sound sequence, on novel word learning is investigated in this study. Thirty-four typically developing children (from ages 3 years 2 months to 6 years 3 months) participated in a multitrial word-learning task involving nonwords of varying phonotactic probability (common vs. rare) paired with unfamiliar object referents. Form and referent learning were tested following increasing numbers of exposures (1 vs. 4 vs. 7) and following a 1-week delay. Correct responses were analyzed to determine whether phonotactic probability affected rate of word learning, and incorrect responses were analyzed to examine whether phonotactic probability affected the formation of semantic representations, lexical representations, or the association between semantic and lexical representations. Results indicated that common sound sequences were learned more rapidly than rare sound sequences across form and referent learning. In addition, phonotactic probability appeared to nfluence the formation of semantic representations and the association between semantic and lexical representations. These results are integrated with previous findings and theoretical models of language acquisition.

Acknowledgments
The National Institutes of Health, through grants DC04781, DC00012, and DC01694, supported this work. Michael Vitevitch and Luis Hernandez assisted with the computational analysis of the nonword stimuli. Toby Calandra, Annette Champion, and Michele Morrisette aided in the recruitment of participants. Judith Gierut, Jan Edwards, and three anonymous reviewers provided comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. We gratefully appreciate their help.
Order a Subscription
Pay Per View
Entire Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research content & archive
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access