Clinical Forum  |   February 2007
Phonological Complexity and Language Learnability
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Judith A. Gierut
    Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Contact author: Judith A. Gierut, Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, 200 South Jordan Avenue, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405-7002. E-mail: gierut@indiana.edu.
  • © 2007 American Speech-Language-Hearing AssociationAmerican Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Clinical Forum / Prologue
Clinical Forum   |   February 2007
Phonological Complexity and Language Learnability
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, February 2007, Vol. 16, 6-17. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2007/003)
History: Received January 22, 2005 , Accepted June 14, 2005
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, February 2007, Vol. 16, 6-17. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2007/003)
History: Received January 22, 2005; Accepted June 14, 2005
Web of Science® Times Cited: 21

Purpose: To extend formal models of language learnability to applications in clinical treatment of children with functional phonological delays.

Method: The focus of the narrative review is on phonological complexity. This follows from learnability theory, whereby complexity in the linguistic input to children has been shown to trigger language learning. Drawing from the literature, phonological complexity is defined from epistemic, ontological, and functional perspectives, with specific emphasis on the application of language universals in the selection of target sounds for treatment.

Results: The cascading effects of phonological complexity on children’s generalization learning are illustrated, and frequently asked questions about complexity in treatment are addressed.

Conclusion: The role of complexity in cognitive development is introduced to demonstrate the apparent robustness of effects.

Acknowledgments
Preparation of this article was supported in part by National Institutes of Health Grant DC01694 to Indiana University–Bloomington. I would like to thank Jessica Barlow and Dan Dinnsen for their comments on an early draft of the manuscript.
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