General programme, activity sheet

Wednesday 7 September, 2016 12:00 to 12:30 Oral presentation
Influence of frequency, neighborhood density and phonetic complexity on first words development in French
Speaker: Christophe Dos Santos, Université François-Rabelais, Tours
Speaker: Sophie Kern, Laboratoire DDL

Authors: Kern Sophie & dos Santos Christophe


Child’s early productive lexicon is quantitatively and qualitatively very different from the adult language (Fenson, Dale, Reznick, Bates, Hartung, Pethick & Reilly, 1993). In the first developmental steps, the child’s lexicon is much smaller than the adult’s lexicon and among the acquired words, some words are acquired earlier than others. Several factors have been showed to influence quantitative and qualitative development of first words’ production (Bornstein, Cote, Maital, Painter, Park, Pascual, Pêcheux, Ruel, Venuti & Vyt, 2004). Frequency of exposition has been proved to play a role: several studies showed a correlation between frequency of exposition and age of acquisition (Goodman, Dale & Li, 2008). The role of phonetic and phonological characteristics on words’ acquisition order has been evaluated as well. The first words are mainly short ones, composed of more easy articulatory gestures and sequences of gestures (Davis, MacNeilage & Matyear, 2002). Moreover, a lexical selectivity bias has been suggested with children choosing to target only words with early developing sounds in them (Schwartz & Leonard, 1982). Finally, there is evidence that neighborhood density influences word learning (Hollich, Jusczyk & Luce, 2002, Storkel, 2001). But, very few studies have evaluated the impact of these three factors simultaneously on the same subjects and never to our knowledge on French data. Moreover, very few studies have considered the grammatical nature and the length of targeted words. Therefore, the main objective of this work is to show the role of frequency, neighborhood density and phonetic complexity on words’ order of acquisition, taking into account the grammatical nature (nouns versus verbs) and the length (mono vs. bisyllabic words) of the produced words by children. To reach our goal, we have observed the development of expressive lexicon in French monolingual children aged between 8 and 30 months. The data has been collected through the French version of the Mac-Arthur Bates Communicative Development Inventories (Kern & Gayraud, 2010). Our results tend to show that the roles of the 3 factors are different according to the age and/or linguistic level of the children: for instance, no influence of these factors has been shown for children under 16 months of age. Our results show also that each factor has a different weight according to the grammatical nature and the length of the targeted words: among others, frequency and neighborhood density explain over 60% of monosyllabic nouns order of acquisition but doesn’t explain monosyllabic verbs order of acquisition.
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Phonetic and phonological development
Place: Room A-16

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