Relationships between lexical and phonological development in young children

J Child Lang. 2011 Jan;38(1):1-34. doi: 10.1017/S0305000910000425. Epub 2010 Oct 18.


Our understanding of the relationships between lexical and phonological development has been enhanced in recent years by increased interest in this area from language scientists, psychologists and phonologists. This review article provides a summary of research, highlighting similarities and differences across studies. It is suggested that the research falls into two categories with different goals and different methodological approaches: (1) child-centered studies that examine the influences active in the prelinguistic and early-word period, emphasizing individual developmental patterns and the active role played by the child; and (2) studies inspired by research on word processing in adults; these focus on the effects of the phonological and lexical characteristics of the ambient language on underlying representations and word learning in children. The article concludes with suggestions for integrating the findings from the two approaches and for future research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Language
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Language Development*
  • Phonetics*
  • Semantics*
  • Speech
  • Vocabulary