Several previous studies have investigated the extent to which segmental detail is represented in the developing lexicon. However, the majority of previous studies have focused on consonant and vowel representation, with little attention to the representation of lexicon tone in spite of its predominance in languages of the world. The current research provides a direct comparison of vowels, consonants and lexical tone representation using a mispronunciation paradigm in children at two ages (2.5 to 3.5 years and 4 to 5 years). Results point to asynchronous emergence of sensitivity to vowel, consonant and tone variation. Tone sensitivity appeared to be high in the younger cohort relative to vowels and consonants. By contrast, vowel and consonant sensitivity was strong in the older age group, with tone sensitivity appearing relatively weak. Findings point to a close coupling in vowel and consonant sensitivity in the preschool years and a dissociation with lexical tone.
Bibliographic reference. Goh, Hwee Hwee / Hu, Charlene / Yeo, Kheng Hui / Singh, Leher (2014): "Lexical representation of consonant, vowels and tones in early childhood", In INTERSPEECH-2014, 2572-2574.