Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences

First Advisor

Jeffry A. Coady

Second Advisor

Anne Whitney

Third Advisor

Scott Schwartz

Abstract

Nonword repetition has become popular in research and clinical practice because it has a significant relationship with vocabulary, a high sensitivity to a variety of language disorders, and minimal cultural bias. A universal finding in literature is that children with specific language impairment (SLI) repeat nonwords less accurately than peers with typical language development (TLD). While many studies have reported accuracy differences between children with SLI and children with TLD, little work has analyzed the errors. The current study examined children's nonword repetition errors. Ten children with SLI and ten age-matched controls repeated three- and four-syllable nonwords. Phoneme substitutions were analyzed in terms of (1) phoneme frequency, (2) phoneme diphone frequency within a syllable containing a substitution, and (3) ease of articulation. Results for all children show a general trend in which phoneme substitutions involved replacement of the target phoneme with a more frequently occurring phoneme; however, the effect was driven by differences in frequency for vowels. There was not a difference between groups. The resulting phonotactic probability within syllables containing substitutions was also greater than the probability of the targets. However, this trend did not differ by group either. Finally, the results for ease of articulation indicated that children replaced target vowels with easier to articulate vowels; but did not replace consonants for phonemes with easier articulation. This suggests that children with SLI, just like children with TLD, substitute less frequent phonemes with more frequent ones, resulting in higher probability combinations. In addition, children with SLI, as well as their peers with TLD, substitute vowels that are easier to articulate, but do not substitute consonants with greater ease of articulation.

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