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Journal Article

Phonetic detail in the developing lexicon


Swingley,  Daniel
Language Comprehension Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Other Research, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Swingley, D. (2003). Phonetic detail in the developing lexicon. Language and Speech, 46(3), 265-294.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-16DC-3
Although infants show remarkable sensitivity to linguistically relevant phonetic variation in speech, young children sometimes appear not to make use of this sensitivity. Here, children's knowledge of the sound-forms of familiar words was assessed using a visual fixation task. Dutch 19-month-olds were shown pairs of pictures and heard correct pronunciations and mispronunciations of familiar words naming one of the pictures. Mispronunciations were word-initial in Experiment 1 and word-medial in Experiment 2, and in both experiments involved substituting one segment with [d] (a common sound in Dutch) or [g] (a rare sound). In both experiments, word recognition performance was better for correct pronunciations than for mispronunciations involving either substituted consonant. These effects did not depend upon children's knowledge of lexical or nonlexical phonological neighbors of the tested words. The results indicate the encoding of phonetic detail in words at 19 months.