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J Child Lang. 2002 Nov;29(4):713-33.

The measurement of whole-word productions.

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Department of Speech and Hearing Science, P.O. Box 870102, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85257-8516, USA.


Attempts to measure phonological acquisition have largely focused on segments, with less effort made to examine whole-word productions. This article proposes four measures designed to estimate a child's whole-word abilities: 1. the phonological mean length of utterance, a measure of whole-word complexity for both child and target words, 2. the proportion of whole-word proximity, a measure of the proximity between the child's word and its target form, 3. The Proportion of whole-word correctness, a measure of the number of words produced correctly relative to the sample size, and 4. the proportion of whole-word variability, a measure of how often a child produces words in distinct phonological shapes. The central measure is the Phonological Mean Length of Utterance, which can be used to identify a child's stage of acquisition, to assess proximity to target words, and to evaluate the complexity of words. The value of the new measures will be demonstrated through preliminary applications to a range of contexts; i.e. monolingual children acquiring English (five children, 0;11 to 1;5), Cantonese (one child, 1;7), and Spanish (5 children, 2;2 to 2;11), bilingual children acquiring Hungarian-English (one child, 2;0) and Spanish-English (3 children, 2;4 to 2;11), children with phonological impairment (eighteen children, 2;11 to 5;3), and children with cochlear implants (six children, 4;5 to 7;11).

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