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Development of morphophonemic segments in children’s mental representations of words

  • Noel K. Jones (a1)

This study explores the development in children of dual-level phonological processing. Evidence suggesting that 6-year-olds form underlying representations composed of morphophonemic segments was obtained by asking children to imitate complex words, omit specified portions, and discuss the meaning of the resulting word parts. Trial items represent a variety of instances in which phonetic forms differ from underlying representations. Although language-advanced first graders produced stronger evidence suggesting morphophonemic segments than language-delayed age-mates, and young adults supplied stronger evidence than either first-grade group; strength of evidence leads to the interpretation that even language-delayed 6-year-olds form morphophonemic segments. Differences in performance between groups probably derive from differences in metalinguistic abilities and linguistic experience rather than from differences in units of phonological processing.

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Department of Curricular Studies, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, 601 South College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403-3297
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Applied Psycholinguistics
  • ISSN: 0142-7164
  • EISSN: 1469-1817
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