The Influence of Vocabulary Size, Phonotactic Probability, and Wordlikeness on Nonword Repetitions of Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment Research has shown that children repeat high-probability phoneme sequences more accurately than low-probability ones. This effect attenuates with age, and its decrease is predicted by developmental changes in the size of the lexicon (J. Edwards, M. E. Beckman, & B. Munson, 2004; B. Munson, 2001; B. Munson, J. Edwards, & ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 2005
The Influence of Vocabulary Size, Phonotactic Probability, and Wordlikeness on Nonword Repetitions of Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Benjamin Munson
    University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • Beth A. Kurtz
    University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • Jennifer Windsor
    University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: Munso005@umn.edu
Article Information
Development / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 2005
The Influence of Vocabulary Size, Phonotactic Probability, and Wordlikeness on Nonword Repetitions of Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2005, Vol. 48, 1033-1047. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2005/072)
History: Received August 9, 2004 , Accepted January 3, 2005
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2005, Vol. 48, 1033-1047. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2005/072)
History: Received August 9, 2004; Accepted January 3, 2005
Web of Science® Times Cited: 116

Research has shown that children repeat high-probability phoneme sequences more accurately than low-probability ones. This effect attenuates with age, and its decrease is predicted by developmental changes in the size of the lexicon (J. Edwards, M. E. Beckman, & B. Munson, 2004; B. Munson, 2001; B. Munson, J. Edwards, & M. Beckman, 2005). This study expands on these findings by examining relationships between vocabulary size and repetition accuracy of nonwords varying in phonotactic probability by 16 children with specific language impairment (SLI), 16 chronological-age-matched (CA) peers with typical speech and language development, and 16 younger children matched with the children with SLI on vocabulary size (VS). As in previous research, children with SLI repeated nonwords less accurately than did CA children. The children with SLI and the VS children showed similar levels of nonword repetition accuracy. Phonotactic probability affected repetition accuracy more for children with SLI and VS children than for CA children. Regression analyses showed that measures of vocabulary size were the best predictor of the difference in repetition accuracy between high- and low-probability sequences. Analyses by items showed that measures of phonotactic probability were stronger predictors of repetition accuracy than judgments of wordlikeness. Taken together, the results support research demonstrating that vocabulary size mediates the influence of phonotactic probability on nonword repetition, perhaps due to its influence on the ongoing refinement of phonological categories.

Acknowledgments
Portions of this research were completed as part of the second author’s master’s thesis at the University of Minnesota. Portions of this research also were presented at the 2002 meeting of the American Speech-LanguageHearing Association in Atlanta, GA; the 2004 Symposium for Research on Child Language Disorders in Madison, WI;
and the 9th Conference on Laboratory Phonology in UrbanaChampaign, IL. We thank audiences at those locations
for helpful comments. This research was supported by the Clark D. Starr and Bryng Bryngelson research funds in the University of Minnesota Department of Speech-LanguageHearing Sciences and by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grants R01 004437 to Jennifer Windsor, R03 005542 to Kathryn Kohnert,
and R03 005702 to Benjamin Munson. We gratefully acknowledge Stefan Frisch for sharing the expected probabilities and wordlikeness ratings for the stimuli used in this study. We thank Mary Beckman, Jan Edwards, Kathryn Kohnert, and Susan Rose for comments on this research
as it was in progress; the research assistants who collected the data; Nancy DeBoe for transcribing the nonwords for the CA children and the children with SLI; and Sarah Jefferson for providing reliability transcriptions.
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