Scientific article
Open access

Intraword Variability in French-Speaking Monolingual and Bilingual Children

Published inJournal of speech, language, and hearing research, vol. 64, no. 7, p. 2453-2471
Publication date2021-07-16


This study examines intraword variability in 40 typically developing French-speaking monolingual and bilingual children, aged 2;6–4;8 (years;months). Specifically, it measures rate of intraword variability and investigates which factors best account for it. They include child-specific ones such as age, expressive vocabulary, gender, bilingual status, and speech sound production ability, and word-specific factors, such as phonological complexity (including number of syllables), phonological neighborhood density (PND), and word frequency.


A variability test was developed, consisting of 25 words, which differed in terms of phonological complexity, PND, and word frequency. Children produced three exemplars of each word during a single session, and productions of words were coded as variable or not variable. In addition, children were administered an expressive vocabulary test and two tests tapping speech motor ability (oral motor assessment and diadochokinetic test). Speech sound ability was also assessed by measuring percent consonants correct on all words produced by the children during the session. Data were entered into a binomial logistic regression.


Average intraword variability was 29% across all children. Several factors were found to predict intraword variability including age, gender, bilingual status, speech sound production ability, phonological complexity, and PND.


Intraword variability was found to be lower in French than what has been reported in English, consistent with phonological differences between French and English. Our findings support those of other investigators in indicating that the factors influencing intraword variability are multiple and reflect sources at various levels in the speech processing system.

Citation (ISO format)
WINKLER-KEHOE, Margaret, CRETTON, Emilie. Intraword Variability in French-Speaking Monolingual and Bilingual Children. In: Journal of speech, language, and hearing research, 2021, vol. 64, n° 7, p. 2453–2471. doi: 10.1044/2021_JSLHR-20-00558
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1092-4388

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