Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

A psycholinguistic model for phonological development

In this research project child language phonology is studied from the perspective of a psycholinguistic speech-production model and this model is in turn studied from the perspective of developmental phonology.

Duration
2007  -   2012
Contact
Claartje Levelt
Funding
NWO VIDI NWO VIDI

In this research project child language phonology is studied from the perspective of a psycholinguistic speech-production model and this model is, in turn, studied from the perspective of developmental phonology. The central idea is that the phonological deviations from the adult target observed in child language productions result from a particular developmental state of the form-encoding system. Form-encoding entails the retrieval of a phonological code, syllabification and prosodification of that information, retrieval of the phonetic code from a store of articulatory-motor programs for syllable-sized units and phonetic adjustments to that code. It is clear that during development problems can arise at every level; Parts of the system could be absent, or the system has to deal with partial information or limited executive control. 

There are many different types of deviations from the target in child productions and a commonly ignored aspect of children's lexical productions is their variability. An important hypothesis is that different error-sources in the form-encoding system result in different types of deviations. Variability is thought to result from limited executive control. A careful study of the different types of deviations in child productions will reveal which parts of the form-encoding system are immature or absent at a particular developmental stage. 

Self-monitoring is an important factor in speech production and is likely to play a significant role in the development of production. Every detected mismatch between an encoded form and the perceptual standard will alert the learner that the form-encoding system needs improvement. An important part of the project is devoted to charting the developing perceptual standards of language learners, and their developing capability to implement these standards in their encoded forms. 

The project will result in a comprehensive developmental model that can deal with the form characteristics of child language productions and their variability.

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