Gierut, J.A., Storkel, H. L., & Morrisette, M. L. (in press). Syllable onsets in developmental perception and production. In D. A. Dinnsen and J. A. Gierut (eds), Optimality theory, phonological acquisition and disorders. (pp. 311-354). Oakville, CA: Equinox   .

 

Abstract

This chapter addresses longstanding questions about children's knowledge of phonological structure and how this structure is used to acquire the productive phonology. Onsets of syllables were the primary focus, in evaluation of three levels of internal structure: surface structure associated with number of segments, representational structure associated with hierarchical complexity and organizational structure associated with syllable well-formedness. Three sets of experiments were conducted to sample children's judgments of the perceived similarity of onset-internal structure as related to their productive use of that same structure. To acheive this, two groups of preliterate preschoolers were enrolled: those with typical versus delayed phonological development. Results showed that children have graded knowledge of onset-internal organization and representation, and this was uniform across groups, despite obvious differences in the productive sound system. These findings bear on our understanding of the nature of children's representations and the relationship between perception and production, and hold implications for models of language development.

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