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Academic Paper

Title: A comparison of homonym and novel word learning: the role of phonotactic probability and word frequency
Author: Holly L. Storkel
Institution: University of Kansas
Author: Junko Maekawa
Institution: University of Kansas
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Abstract: This study compares homonym learning to novel word learning by three- to four-year-old children to determine whether homonyms are learned more rapidly or more slowly than novel words. In addition, the role of form characteristics in homonym learning is examined by manipulating phonotactic probability and word frequency. Thirty-two children were exposed to homonyms and novel words in a story with visual support and learning was measured in two tasks: referent identification; picture naming. Results showed that responses to homonyms were as accurate as responses to novel words in the referent identification task. In contrast, responses to homonyms were more accurate than responses to novel words in the picture-naming task. Furthermore, homonyms composed of common sound sequences were named more accurately than those composed of rare sound sequences. The influence of word frequency was less straightforward. These results may be inconsistent with a one-to-one form–referent bias in word learning.


This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 32, Issue 4, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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