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Reading: A developmental analysis of similarity neighborhoods in European Portuguese

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Research Paper

A developmental analysis of similarity neighborhoods in European Portuguese

Authors:

Selene Vicente ,

Universidade do Porto, Portugal, PT
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São Luís Castro,

Universidade do Porto, Portugal, PT
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Amanda Walley

Univeristy of Alabama, at Birmingham
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Abstract

We present a developmental analysis of the structural organization of young children's and adults’ lexicons for European Portuguese. The production lexicons of 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds, a receptive lexicon for 12- to 19-month-olds, and an adult lexicon were compared using the similarity neighborhood paradigm (e.g., Charles-Luce & Luce, 1990). For each lexicon, similarity neighborhoods were computed for words with 3 to 8 phonemes, and phonological neighborhood sizes were compared. A phonological neighbor was defined as any word in one of the lexicons that differed from a given target by one phoneme substitution, deletion, or addition. Results showed structural differences between shorter (3-, 4- and 5-phoneme) and longer (6- to 8-phoneme) words. There was no age effect for longer words, of which ca. 92% had no neighbors. Shorter words, in contrast, had more neighbors: in the children's lexicons, ca. 58% of shorter words had one to four neighbors, and 8% had five to seven neighbors; only ca. 36% had no neighbors. An age effect was found, whereby similarity neighborhoods become increasingly dense over the course of childhood. The results are discussed in light of previous findings for English-speaking children and adults, and their implications for the development of spoken word recognition by Portuguese listeners are considered.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/jpl.38
How to Cite: Vicente, S., Castro, S. L., & Walley, A. (2003). A developmental analysis of similarity neighborhoods in European Portuguese. Journal of Portuguese Linguistics, 2(1), 115–133. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/jpl.38
Published on 30 Jun 2003.
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