Investigating the Relationship Between Nonword Repetition Performance and Syllabic Structure in Typical and Atypical Language Development Purpose In this study, the authors examined the role of syllabic structure in nonword repetition performance in typically developing (TD) children and children with specific language impairment (SLI). Method Eighteen children with SLI (5;7–6;7 [years;months]) and 18 TD children matched for chronological age were tested on their ability ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2013
Investigating the Relationship Between Nonword Repetition Performance and Syllabic Structure in Typical and Atypical Language Development
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Marco Tamburelli
    Bangor University, United Kingdom
  • Gary Jones
    Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom
  • Correspondence to Marco Tamburelli: m.tamburelli@bangor.ac.uk
  • Editor: Janna Oetting
    Editor: Janna Oetting×
  • Associate Editor: Marc Joanisse
    Associate Editor: Marc Joanisse×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2013
Investigating the Relationship Between Nonword Repetition Performance and Syllabic Structure in Typical and Atypical Language Development
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2013, Vol. 56, 708-720. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/11-0171)
History: Received July 6, 2011 , Revised January 31, 2012 , Accepted August 2, 2012
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2013, Vol. 56, 708-720. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/11-0171)
History: Received July 6, 2011; Revised January 31, 2012; Accepted August 2, 2012
Web of Science® Times Cited: 2

Purpose In this study, the authors examined the role of syllabic structure in nonword repetition performance in typically developing (TD) children and children with specific language impairment (SLI).

Method Eighteen children with SLI (5;7–6;7 [years;months]) and 18 TD children matched for chronological age were tested on their ability to repeat phonemes in different positions within syllable structure (onset, nucleus, coda). The test involved 2 separate nonword repetition tasks differing in lexicality (high vs. low). High-lexicality nonwords contained subparts that are morphemes of the language (i.e., subparts were “lexical”), whereas nonlexical nonwords did not.

Results Repetition performance across the 3 syllabic positions showed a significant effect for both populations and on both tasks. However, although on the high-lexicality task the direction of the effect revealed the onset as the most error-prone constituent (onset > coda > nucleus), on the low-lexicality task, it was the coda that attracted most errors (coda > onset > nucleus).

Conclusions Results suggest that the procedures involved in computing syllabic structure are qualitatively similar in the 2 populations. We take these results to support the view that different syllabic positions involve different levels of phonological complexity and that tests that control for lexicality are crucial in illuminating these differences.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by Leverhulme Trust Grant F/01 374/G, awarded to the second author. We thank Sarah Watson for her help in the data collection phase of the study, Gabrielle Le Geyt for recording the nonword stimuli, Hannah Witherstone for helping with interrater reliability, and the schools and children that participated in the study.
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