Input frequency and lexical variability in phonological development: a survival analysis of word-initial cluster production

Mitsuhiko Ota, Sam J. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Although it has been often hypothesized that children learn to produce new sound patterns first in frequently heard words, the available evidence in support for this claim is inconclusive. To re-examine this question, we conducted a survival analysis of word-initial consonant clusters produced by three children in the Providence Corpus (0;11-4;0). The analysis took account of several lexical factors in addition to lexical input frequency, including the age of first production, production frequency, neighborhood density and number of phonemes. The results showed that lexical input frequency was a significant predictor of the age at which the accuracy level of cluster production in each word first reached 80%. The magnitude of the frequency effect differed across cluster types. Our findings indicate that some of the between-word variance found in the development of sound production can indeed be attributed to the frequency of words in the child’s ambient language.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-566
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Child Language
Volume40
Issue number3
Early online date27 Mar 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

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