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When is a velar an alveolar? Evidence supporting a revised psycholinguistic model of speech production in children

By Nigel Hewlett, Fiona Gibbon and Wendy Cohen-Mackenzie


Speech data from a single child with a phonological impairment were analysed with a view to assessing the influence of utterance mode (spontaneous vs. confrontation naming vs. repetition), lexical status (word vs. non-word) and phonological context (voicing status and position in word) on the accuracy of production of velar targets. Under these conditions, accuracy was found to vary between 'correct' velar and 'incorrect' alveolar place of articulation. First, accuracy increased over four conditions, from spontaneous speech to confrontation naming to real word repetition to non-word repetition. Second, there was a higher incidence of correct velar targets in initial than final position in the word, and a higher incidence of correct /k/ targets than /g/ targets. These findings are discussed in relation to a proposed model of child speech production, the configuration of which borrows heavily from similar models described recently in the literature. The model attempts to explain how a child represents and processes word-forms, and over time revises their pronunciation. The explanation offered for these findings entails a claim that speech articulations are concerned directly with reproducing perceptual phenomena and that their ability to do so accurately may be constrained by processing load

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Year: 1998
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