Early Word Segmentation by Infants and Toddlers With Williams Syndrome
This study tested the ability of English infants and toddlers with Williams syndrome to segment, that is, to extract from fluent speech, bisyllabic nouns that had either a strong–‐weak stress pattern (predominant in English), or a weak–‐strong stress pattern. The testing procedure was the same for both types of words: Children were familiarized with instances of isolated nouns, and then tested on their recognition of these nouns embedded in passages. In English, typically developing infants start segmenting strong–‐weak nouns by 7.5 months of age, and weak–‐strong nouns by 10.5 months. Our clinical population was able to segment strong–‐weak nouns, but failed, despite chronological ages above 15 months, to segment weak–‐strong words. These results suggest that the development of word segmentation is seriously delayed in Williams syndrome. This deficit in early phonological processing may contribute to a fuller understanding of the late lexical onset in this population, a phenomenon that had hitherto only been explained in terms of cognitive and semantic deficits.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
10.1207/S15327078IN0402_06 About DOI