Storkel, H.L. & Gierut, J.A. (2002). Lexical influences on interword variation. In B. Skarabela, S. Fish, & A.H.J. Do (eds). Proceedings of the 26th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, Volume 2 (pp. 665-676). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.


When correct articulation of a target sound emerges in acquisition, a child will often produce the target sound in some but not all relevant words of the ambient language. This study examined whether properties that influence lexical processing predict the words that are vulnerable to sound change and whether this is consistent across individual children who vary in the markedness of the presenting fricative inventory (unmarked vs. marked), the markedness of the fricatives acquired (unmarked vs. marked) and the context where sound change occurred (prevocalic vs. postvocalic). Word frequency and neighborhood density of words that changed from incorrect to correct in children's productions were compared to those that remained incorrect across time. Results showed that lexical characteristics did predict words vulnerable to sound change with variation in this influence accounted for by featural markedness and context. It is proposed that word frequency and neighborhood density may reflect different dimensions of underlying lexical representations and that both are useful in accounting for interword variation. [NIDCD 01694, 04781, 00012]

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