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The influence of lexical status and neighborhood density on children's nonword repetition

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 June 2010

University of Western Ontario
Mount Saint Vincent University
ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Jamie Metsala, Faculty of Education, University of Western Ontario, 1137 Western Road, London, ON N6G 1G7, Canada. E-mail:


This study examined effects of lexical status and neighborhood density of constituent syllables on children's nonword repetition and interactions with nonword length. Lexical status of the target syllable impacted repetition accuracy for the longest nonwords. In addition, children made more errors that changed a nonword syllable to a word syllable than the reverse. Syllables from dense versus sparse neighborhoods were repeated more accurately in three- and four-syllable nonwords, but there was no effect of density for two-syllable nonwords. The effect of neighborhood density was greater for a low versus high vocabulary group. Finally, children's error responses were from more dense neighborhoods than the target syllables. The results are congruent with models of nonword repetition that emphasize the influence of long-term lexical knowledge on children's performance.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

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