The Impact of Lexical Factors on Children's Word-Finding Errors 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 ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2004
The Impact of Lexical Factors on Children's Word-Finding Errors
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Diane J. German
    National-Louis University, Chicago, IL
  • Rochelle S. Newman
    University of Maryland, College Park
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: dgerman@nl.edu
  • Diane J. German, Department of Special Education, National-Louis University, 1000 Capitol Drive, Wheeling, IL 60090-7201. E-mail: dgerman@nl.edu
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Normal Language Processing / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2004
The Impact of Lexical Factors on Children's Word-Finding Errors
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2004, Vol. 47, 624-636. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/048)
History: Received May 7, 2003 , Accepted September 29, 2003
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2004, Vol. 47, 624-636. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/048)
History: Received May 7, 2003; Accepted September 29, 2003
Web of Science® Times Cited: 44

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 blocked 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.

KEY WORDS: word-finding difficulties, lexical access, language and learning disabilities, word frequency, lexical neighborhood

Acknowledgments
We thank Maureen Demko and the speech and language pathologists and students at the Atlanta Speech School, Atlanta, Georgia, for their participation in this investigation. We also thank Paul Luce for use of his neighborhood computation programs and Christine Beagle, Krista Jo Heinlen, and Maria Hernandez for assistance in coding.
This work was partially supported by Research Grant HD37822-01 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and by Research Grant BCS 99–07849 from the National Science Foundation to the University of Maryland.
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