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A prosodically controlled word and nonword repetition task for 2- to 4- year-olds: Evidence from typically developing children

Roy, P. & Chiat, S. (2004). A prosodically controlled word and nonword repetition task for 2- to 4- year-olds: Evidence from typically developing children. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 47(1), pp. 223-234. doi: 10.1044/1092-4388(2004/019)


An association has been found between nonword repetition and language skills in school-aged children with both typical and atypical language development (Dollaghan & Campbell, 1998; Ellis Weismer et al., 2000; Gathercole & Baddeley, 1990; Montgomery, 2002). This raises the possibility that younger children’s repetition performance may be predictive of later language deficits. In order to investigate this possibility, it is important to establish that elicited repetition with very young children is both feasible and informative. To this end, a repetition task was designed and carried out with 66 children aged 2-4. The task consisted of 18 words and 18 matched nonwords that were systematically manipulated for length and prosodic structure. In addition, an assessment of receptive vocabulary was administered.

The repetition task elicited high levels of response. Total scores as well as word and nonword scores were sensitive to age. Lexical status and item length affected performance regardless of age: words were repeated more accurately than nonwords, and one-syllable items were repeated more accurately than two-syllable items, which were in turn repeated more accurately than three-syllable items. The effect of prosodic structure was also significant. Whole syllable errors were almost exclusive to unstressed syllables, with those preceding stress being most vulnerable. Performance on the repetition task was significantly correlated with performance on the receptive vocabulary test. Since this repetition task was effective in eliciting responses from most of the 2 to 4-year-old participants, tapped developmental change in their repetition skills, and revealed patterns in their performance, it has the potential to identify deficits in very early repetition skills that may be indicative of wider language difficulties.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
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