Child looking at pictures in children's book

The role of self-monitoring in the development of word production in young children

1 January 2023 until 1 January 2028
Project member(s)
Prof. Fikkert, J.P.M. (Paula) , Prof. Clara C. Levelt (University of Leiden)
Project type

Young children will often say [tʌk] when referring to the word ‘truck’. Is [tʌk] simply a speech error or is it the result of insufficient motor control? Or do children store the word truck’ as [tʌk] in their mental lexicon and is incomplete perception the cause of their deviant production form? This simple example makes clear that we need to study the whole chain from perception to production, as well as children’s ability to improve or update their production and perception forms. The central question is: What underlies the gradual transition from deviating, variable word productions to productions that are considered adult-like? Our main hypothesis is that the driving force behind the development of speech production is self-monitoring. Through this monitoring process, developing toddlers are alerted to mismatches between expected and produced word forms (either by themselves or by others), prompting adjustments to their stored segmental representations and the word-form encoding system. The main aims of the project are (a) to chart the developing language production system and the segmental representations that the system encodes, and (b) to understand the role of the self-monitoring process in two-year-olds. To investigate this, we will use various experimental methods that test, invoke, or require self-monitoring, thereby uniquely combining studies into toddler’s perception and production. Importantly, in our experiments we take toddlers’ phonological system and concurrent word productions into account, which enables us to gain a deeper understanding of interactions between their perception and production.




Leiden University

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