Articulatory Complexity, Ambient Frequency, and Functional Load as Predictors of Consonant Development in Children The notion of a universal pattern of phonological development, rooted in basic physiological constraints, is controversial, with some researchers arguing for a strong environmental (ambient language) influence on phonological development or an interaction of both physiological constraints and ambient language effects. This research examines the relative value of articulatory complexity, ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2005
Articulatory Complexity, Ambient Frequency, and Functional Load as Predictors of Consonant Development in Children
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Stephanie F. Stokes
    University of Reading, Whiteknights, United Kingdom
  • Dinoj Surendran
    University of Chicago
  • Contact author: Stephanie F. Stokes, School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, University of Reading, Whiteknights RG6 6AA, United Kingdom. E-mail: s.stokes@rdg.ac.uk; dinoj@cs.uchicago.edu
  • Karen E. Pollock served as guest associate editor on this article.
    Karen E. Pollock served as guest associate editor on this article.×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2005
Articulatory Complexity, Ambient Frequency, and Functional Load as Predictors of Consonant Development in Children
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2005, Vol. 48, 577-591. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2005/040)
History: Received August 22, 2003 , Revised February 10, 2004 , Accepted September 13, 2004
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2005, Vol. 48, 577-591. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2005/040)
History: Received August 22, 2003; Revised February 10, 2004; Accepted September 13, 2004
Web of Science® Times Cited: 15

The notion of a universal pattern of phonological development, rooted in basic physiological constraints, is controversial, with some researchers arguing for a strong environmental (ambient language) influence on phonological development or an interaction of both physiological constraints and ambient language effects. This research examines the relative value of articulatory complexity, ambient frequency, and functional load as predictors of consonant development in children. Three languages are investigated: Cantonese, American English, and Dutch. Regression analyses revealed that functional load accounted for 55% of the variance in age of emergence of consonants in 7 English-speaking children (8–25 months), while frequency of consonants in the ambient language accounted for 63% of the variance in age of emergence of consonants in 51 Cantonese-speaking children (15–30 months). Articulatory complexity accounted for 40% of the accuracy of production of consonants in 40 English-speaking children (25 months), and frequency accounted for 43% of the variance in accuracy of production of consonants in 5 Dutch-speaking children (24 months). Given cross-linguistic differences, further research is required.

Acknowledgments
Portions of this research were presented at the Child Language Seminar, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, July 2003. We thank Tom Klee, Cecyle Perry Carson, and David Carson for generously sharing the phonetic transcripts of their American English database with us.
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