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Developmental differences in the effects of phonological, lexical and semantic variables on word learning by infants*

  • HOLLY L. STORKEL (a1)
Abstract

The influence of phonological (i.e. individual sounds), lexical (i.e. whole-word forms) and semantic (i.e. meaning) characteristics on the words known by infants age 1 ; 4 to 2 ; 6 was examined, using an existing database (Dale & Fenson, 1996). For each noun, word frequency, two phonological (i.e. positional segment average, biphone average), two lexical (i.e. neighborhood density, word length) and four semantic variables (i.e. semantic set size, connectivity, probability resonance, resonance strength) were computed. Regression analyses showed that more infants knew (1) words composed of low-probability sounds and sound pairs, (2) shorter words with high neighborhood density, and (3) words that were semantically related to other words, both in terms of the number and strength of semantic connections. Moreover, the effect of phonological variables was constant across age, whereas the effect of lexical and semantic variables changed across age.

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Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Holly Storkel, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Speech-Language-Hearing: Sciences and Disorders, University of Kansas, 3001 Dole Human Development Center, 1000 Sunnyside Avenue, Lawrence, KS 66045-7555. e-mail: hstorkel@ku.edu.
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[*]

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (DC08095; DC04781; DC005803; HD002528). David Slegers and Todd Little aided in the statistical analysis. Michael Vitevitch provided comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.

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Journal of Child Language
  • ISSN: 0305-0009
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