Stylistic variation at the ''single-word'' stage: Relations between maternal speech characteristics and children's vocabulary composition and usage
SourceChild Development, 68, 5, (1997), pp. 807-819
Article / Letter to editor
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In this study we test a number of different claims about the nature of stylistic variation at the ''single-word'' stage by examining the relation between variation in early vocabulary composition, variation in early language use, and variation in the structural and functional properties of mothers' child-directed speech. Maternal-report and observational data were collected for 26 children at 10, 50, and 100 words. These were then correlated with a variety of different measures of maternal speech at 10 words. The results show substantial variation in the percentage of common nouns and unanalyzed phrases in children's early vocabularies, and significant relations between this variation and the way in which language is used by the child. They also reveal significant relations between the way in which mothers use language at 10 words and the way in which their children use language at 50 words and between certain formal properties of mothers' speech at 10 words and the percentage of common nouns and unanalyzed phrases in children's early vocabularies. However, most of these relations disappear when an attempt is made to control for possible effects of the child on the mother at Time 1. The exception is a significant negative correlation between mothers' tendency to produce speech that illustrates word boundaries and the percentage of unanalyzed phrases at 50 and 100 words. This suggests that mothers whose speech provides the child with information about where new words begin and end tend to have children with few unanalyzed phrases in their early vocabularies.
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