Spoken Word Classification in Children and Adults PurposePreschool children often have difficulties in word classification, despite good speech perception and production. Some researchers suggest that they represent words using phonetic features rather than phonemes. In this study, the authors examined whether there is a progression from feature-based to phoneme-based processing across age groups and whether responses are ... Article
Article  |   February 01, 2011
Spoken Word Classification in Children and Adults
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Julia M. Carroll
    University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom
  • Joanne M. Myers
    University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom
  • Contact author: Julia M. Carroll, Department of Psychology, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, United Kingdom. E-mail: j.m.carroll@warwick.ac.uk.
Article Information
Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language
Article   |   February 01, 2011
Spoken Word Classification in Children and Adults
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2011, Vol. 54, 127-147. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/08-0148)
History: Received July 18, 2008 , Revised January 16, 2009 , Accepted June 11, 2010
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2011, Vol. 54, 127-147. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/08-0148)
History: Received July 18, 2008; Revised January 16, 2009; Accepted June 11, 2010
Web of Science® Times Cited: 2

PurposePreschool children often have difficulties in word classification, despite good speech perception and production. Some researchers suggest that they represent words using phonetic features rather than phonemes. In this study, the authors examined whether there is a progression from feature-based to phoneme-based processing across age groups and whether responses are consistent across tasks and stimuli.

MethodIn Study 1, 120 three- to five-year-old children completed 3 tasks assessing use of phonetic features in classification, with an additional 58 older children completing 1 of the 3 tasks. In Study 2, all of the children, together with an additional adult sample, completed a nonword learning task.

ResultsIn all 4 tasks, children classified words sharing phonemes as similar. In addition, children regarded words as similar if they shared manner of articulation, particularly word finally. Adults also showed this sensitivity to manner, but across the tasks, there was a pattern of increasing use of phonemic information with age.

ConclusionsChildren tend to classify words as similar if they share phonemes or if they share manner of articulation word finally. Use of phonemic information becomes more common with age.

Acknowledgments
This research was carried out with the help of Economic and Social Research Council Grant RES-000-22-1209, awarded to the first author. We thank Gordon Brown, James Clyne, and Maggie Snowling for their comments on earlier drafts of this article, and we thank the schools, children, and parents who helped with the data collection.
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