chapter  21
15 Pages

2Chapter 1 The Developing Mental Lexicon of Children With Specic Language Impairment

The mental lexicon refers to “the collection of words stored in the human mind” (Trask, 1997, p. 140) with each entry “detailing the properties of a single lexical item: its pronunciation, its meaning, its word class, its subcategorization behavior, any grammatical irregularities, and possibly other information” (Trask, 1997, p. 130). This chapter will focus on a subset of the properties of lexical items that are frequently incorporated in adult and child models of spoken language processing, namely phonological, lexical, and semantic representations (Dell, 1988; Gupta & MacWhinney, 1997; Levelt, 1989; Luce, Goldinger, Auer, & Vitevitch, 2000; Magnuson, Tanenhaus, Aslin, & Dahan, 2003; McClelland & Elman, 1986; Norris, 1994). The phonological representation includes information about individual sounds, with models varying in the specic information incorporated (e.g., phonetic features, context-specic allophones, phonemes). For simplicity of illustration, phoneme units will be used to illustrate the phonological representation in this chapter. Thus, the phonological representation of the word “cat” would consist of the individual phonemes /k/, /æ/, and /t/ (i.e., three separate units). The lexical representation includes information about the sound structure of the word as an integrated unit. Continuing the illustration, the lexical representation for “cat” would be /kæt/ (i.e., one unit). Lastly, the semantic representation consists of information about the meaning or referent of the word. Here, the semantic representation for “cat” would include, but not be limited to, information such as “four-legged furry pet that purrs.”