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Do Children Pick and Choose? An Examination of Phonological Selection and Avoidance in Early Lexical Acquisition. Richard G. Schwartz and Laurence B. Leonard (Purdue University). Presented By Amber Jamieson November 5, 2010 . BACKGROUND.

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presented by amber jamieson november 5 2010

Do Children Pick and Choose?An Examination of Phonological Selection and Avoidance in Early Lexical Acquisition.Richard G. Schwartz and Laurence B. Leonard (Purdue University)

Presented By Amber Jamieson

November 5, 2010

  • Number of phonologists have observed that young children select and attempt adult words based on certain phonological characteristics of words while avoiding other characteristics
  • Patterns of selection and avoidance seem to be based on structure/syllable shape or comprising sounds, or mixture between
  • Jennika (Ingram 1974) primarily attempted words with open syllable structure (CV or CVCV), largely avoiding other syllabic shapes
  • Hildegard (Leopold 1949) only attempted words involving initial labial and apical stop and nasal consonants
  • Primary word attempts made by one child (Ferguson & Farwell 1975) involved initial fricatives
  • Child (Ferguson, Peizer, & Weeks 1973) who primarily selected adult words with open syllable shape CVCV only in which final vowel was [i]
background previous studies
BACKGROUND: Previous Studies
  • Examined the effects of selection/avoidance patterns upon tendency to produce unsolicited imitations of nonsense words & found that patterns appearing in spontaneous speech not reflected in tendency to imitate words with certain phonological features (Leonard, Schwartz, Folger, & Wilcox 1978)
  • Children had entered 50 word stage
  • Perhaps there is general rapid relaxation of such constraints rather than gradual disappearance of selection/avoidance
background previous studies1
BACKGROUND: Previous Studies
  • Why select and avoid? Perhaps plays important role in initially simplifying task of acquisition by limiting number of lexical forms with which child must deal (Ferguson 1976)
  • Evidence for child’s perceptual abilities and active role in phonological acquisition (Kiparsky & Menn 1977)
  • Failure to select certain words may be one of several means by which a child observes output constraints (Menn)
purpose of study
  • Determine actual role of selection and avoidance in lexical & phonological acquisition
  • Obtain results in experimental paradigm
  • Restrict investigation to children with no more than 5 ‘true words’ (Dore et al. 1976) when initial selection patterns are evident
subjects and investigation
  • 12 children (1;2 to 1;3.5) comprised of 6 boys and 6 girls
    • all at early point in lexical acquisition
    • all from middle-class homes in which English was only language spoken
  • Each child seen for
    • initial language sampling session
    • parental interviews
    • 10 bi-weekly experimental sessions which
  • Took place in each child’s own home
  • 16 contrived lexical concepts, each consisting of a nonsense word and four experimental exemplars serving as referents
  • 8 of nonsense words were IN words; other 8 were OUT words
  • 8 of concepts involved four unfamiliar objects, subdivided into Functionally Similar (FS) and Perceptually Similar (PS)
  • 8 of concepts involved four unfamiliar actions subdivided into FS and PS
stimuli definitions
STIMULI Definitions
  • IN words: words involving phonological characteristics which had been evidenced in production
  • OUT words: involving characteristics not evidenced in production or selection
  • Imitative: productions following naming of exemplar without intervening utterances
  • Non-Imitative: productions occurring after an intervening utterance
  • FunctionallySimilar (FS)
    • Objects: objects upon which the SAME actions could be and were preformed (such as spinning by hand), perceptually different in terms of shape & texture
    • Actions: preformed on various familiar objects having similar end result (such as making objects spin), perceptually different in direction of movement and body part involved
  • Perceptually Similar (PS)
    • Objects: shared static attributes (shape & texture), functionally different in actions that could be performed, presented with different action for each exemplar within given concept
    • Actions: involved same direction of movement and similar body parts, functionally different in terms of end results and affects upon various objects
  • 8 concepts named by IN words
    • 2 Object Concepts with FS Exemplars
    • 2 Action Concepts with FS Exemplars
    • 2 Object Concepts with PS Exemplars
    • 2 Action Concepts with PS Exemplars
  • 8 concepts named by OUT words
    • 2 Object Concepts with FS Exemplars
    • 2 Action Concepts with FS Exemplars
    • 2 Object Concepts with PS Exemplars
    • 2 Action Concepts with PS Exemplars
  • Words were embedded in phrases such as Here’s an ofofor Watch me ket
  • Administered probes in each session probe to determine acquisition of experimental words, attempting to elicit names of exemplars by asking What’s this? or What am I doing?
  • For vocalization to be considered production of experimental word minimally vowel or consonant had to match or be consistent with commonly reported processes
  • Primarily interested in imitative and non-imitative productions
  • imitative and non-imitative aspects used to examine results for each type of word
  • Compared:
    • # of instances of IN vs. OUT productions for each aspect
    • Mean # of presentations preceding 1st production
    • Mean session # in which 1st production occurred
  • Children acquired (produced non-imitatively) greater number of IN words than OUT words
  • Words considered to be IN appeared to be attempted earlier than words considered OUT
  • 1st IN-word production occurred in earlier sessions than 1st OUT-word production
  • Mean # of preceding presentations differed in same direction, but not with statistical significance
  • Significantly fewer OUT words than IN words were attempted (55% vs. 74%)
  • For both object and action concepts, IN words were acquired in significantly greater #s than OUT words, also true for both PS exemplars and FS exemplars
  • Imitative productions revealed a pattern similar to that found for non-imitative productions
  • Experimental evidence that young children are selective in words
  • Significant similarities but some differences
    • Some words produced imitatively not produced non-imitatively
    • Some words produced non-imitatively not imitated
    • In limited number of cases, accuracy of imitative productions differed from non-imitative
  • The origins of constraints, basis for the maintenance and eventual disappearance remain unspecified
  • Cognitively based model of phonological acquisition:
    • Schema: structural unit of perceptual or figurative knowledge
    • Scheme: behavioral structure which permits organism to transfer and generalize actions to similar situations
  • Proposal leads to predictions concerning words most likely to attempt
    • Words which child has schema & coordinated scheme most likely to be attempted
    • Words for which schema exists but no coordinated scheme less likely to be produced
    • Schema but no pre-existing scheme are least likely to produced
    • Words for which child has no schema will not be produced
  • According to Menn the cognitively based proposals suggest that children do not avoid certain words, but instead simply fail to select them. How would one make a distinction between failing to select and avoiding? How could one test failure-to-select ≠ avoidance?
  • The age range of the children was selected to ensure that at the conclusion of the investigation the children would still be within a period when selection continues to occur. What could be expected if the children had crossed the fifty word stage while in the process of the investigation?
  • The subjects were selected from middle-class homes. In what way is this a significant or an arbitrary control?