Nonword repetition depends on the frequency of sublexical representations at different grain sizes: evidence from a multi-factorial analysis

Szewczyk, J., Chiat, S., Marecka, M. & Wodniecka-Chlipalska, Z. (2018). Nonword repetition depends on the frequency of sublexical representations at different grain sizes: evidence from a multi-factorial analysis. Cognition, doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2018.06.002

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Abstract

The nonword repetition task (NWR) has been widely used in basic cognitive and clinical research, as well as in clinical assessment, and has been proposed as a clinical marker for Specific Language Impairment (SLI). Yet the mechanisms underlying performance on this task are not clear. This study offers insights into these mechanisms through a comprehensive examination of item-related variables identified in previous research as possibly contributing to NWR scores and through testing the predictive power of each in relation to the others. A unique feature of the study is that all factors are considered simultaneously. Fifty-seven typically developing children were tested with a NWR task containing 150 nonwords differing in length, phonotactic probability, lexical neighbourhood and phonological complexity. The results indicate that phonological processing of novel words draws on sublexical representations at all grain sizes and that these representations are phonological, unstructured and insensitive to morphemehood. We propose a novel index – mean ngram frequency of all phonemes – that best captures the extent to which a nonword draws on sublexical representations. The study demonstrates the primacy of sublexical representations in NWR performance with implications for the nature of the deficit in SLI.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2018, Elsevier. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Departments: School of Health Sciences > Language & Communication Science
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/19877

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