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.
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: Accepted 14 Jun 2005 , Received 22 Jan 2005
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology February 2007, Vol.16, 6-17. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2007/003)
History: Accepted 14 Jun 2005 , Received 22 Jan 2005

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.

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