Effect of phonotactic probability and neighborhood density on word-learning configuration by preschoolers with typical development and specific language impairment

Shelley Gray, Andrea Pittman, Juliet Weinhold

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    20 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    Purpose: In this study, the authors assessed the effects of phonotactic probability and neighborhood density on word-learning configuration by preschoolers with specific language impairment (SLI) and typical language development (TD). Method: One hundred thirty-one children participated: 48 with SLI, 44 with TD matched on age and gender, and 39 with TD matched on vocabulary and gender. Referent identification and naming were assessed in a computer-based learning context. Results: For referent identification, preschoolers with TD benefited from high phonotactic probability, and the younger group also benefited from low neighborhood density. In contrast, the SLI group benefited only from high neighborhood density. For naming, older preschoolers with TD benefited most from low-density words, younger preschoolers with TD benefited most from words with high phonotactic probability, and the SLI group showed no advantage. Conclusion: Phonotactic probability and neighborhood density had different effects on each group that may be related to children's ability to store well-specified word forms and to the size of their extant lexicon. The authors argue that cross-study comparisons of word learning are needed; therefore, researchers should describe word, referent, and learner characteristics and the learning context and should situate their studies in a triggering → configuration + engagement model of word learning.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1011-1025
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
    Volume57
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 2014

    Keywords

    • Children
    • Development
    • Language
    • Language disorders
    • Specific language impairment

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Linguistics and Language
    • Speech and Hearing

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