The relationship between children's sensitivity to dominant and non-dominant patterns of lexical stress and reading accuracy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study reports on a new task for assessing children's sensitivity to lexical stress for words with different stress patterns and demonstrates that this task is useful in examining predictors of reading accuracy during the elementary years. In English, polysyllabic words beginning with a strong syllable exhibit the most common or dominant pattern of lexical stress (e.g., “coconut”), whereas polysyllabic words beginning with a weak syllable exhibit a less common non-dominant pattern (e.g., “banana”). The new Aliens Talking Underwater task assesses children's ability to match low-pass filtered recordings of words to pictures of objects. Via filtering, phonetic detail is removed but prosodic contour information relating to lexical stress is retained. In a series of two-alternative forced choice trials, participants see a picture and are asked to choose which of two filtered recordings matches the name of that picture; one recording exhibits the correct lexical stress of the target word, and the other recording reverses the pattern of stress over the initial two syllables of the target word rendering it incorrect. Target words exhibit either dominant stress or non-dominant stress. Analysis of data collected from 192 typically developing children aged 5 to 12 years revealed that sensitivity to non dominant lexical stress was a significant predictor of reading accuracy even when age and phonological awareness were taken into account. A total of 76.3% of variance in children's reading accuracy was explained by these variables.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume157
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Individual differences
  • Lexical stress
  • Prosody
  • Reading
  • Reading accuracy
  • Word reading

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