Relationships between nonword repetition accuracy and other measures of linguistic development in children with phonological disorders

Benjamin Munson, Jan Edwards, Mary E. Beckman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Scopus citations


A growing body of research has documented effects of phonotactic probability on young children's nonword repetition. This study extends this research in 2 ways. First, it compares nonword repetitions by 40 young children with phonological disorders with those by 40 same-age peers with typical phonological development on a nonword repetition task in which the frequency of embedded diphone sequences was varied. Second, it examines the relationship between the frequency effect in the nonword repetition task and other measures of linguistic ability in these children. Children in both groups repeated low-frequency sequences less accurately than high-frequency sequences. The children with phonological disorders were less accurate overall but showed no larger disadvantage for the low-frequency sequences than their age peers. Across the group, the size of the frequency effect was correlated with vocabulary size, but it was independent of measures of speech perception and articulatory ability. These results support the hypothesis that the production difficulty associated with low-frequency sequences is related primarily to vocabulary growth rather than to developments in articulatory or perceptual ability. By contrast, production problems experienced by children with phonological disorders do not appear to result from difficulties in making abstractions over known lexical items. Instead, they may be associated with difficulties in building representations in the primary sensory and motor domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-78
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • Frequency
  • Nonword repetition
  • Phonological disorder
  • Speech perception
  • Vocabulary size


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