Skip to main content
eScholarship
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Impossible to _gnore: Word-Form Inconsistency Slows Preschool Children's Word-Learning

Abstract

Many studies have examined language acquisition under morphosyntactic or semantic inconsistency, but few have considered word-form inconsistency. Many young learners encounter word-form inconsistency due to accent variation in their communities. The current study asked how preschoolers recognize accent-variants of newly learned words. Can preschoolers generalize recognition based on partial match to the learned form? When learning in two accents simultaneously, do children ignore inconsistent elements, or encode two word forms (one per accent)? Three- to 5-year-olds learned words in a novel-word learning paradigm but did not generalize to new accent-like pronunciations (Experiment 1) unless familiar-word recognition trials were interspersed (Experiments 3 and 4), which apparently generated a familiar-word-recognition pragmatic context. When exposure included two accent-variants per word, children were less accurate (Experiment 2) and slower to look to referents (Experiments 2, 5) relative to one-accent learning. Implications for language learning and accent processing over development are discussed. © 2014 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC Academic Senate's Open Access Policy. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
Current View