Relationship of grammatical context on children's recognition of s/z-inflected words

Meredith Spratford, Hannah Hodson McLean, Ryan W McCreery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Access to aided high-frequency speech information is currently assessed behaviorally using recognition of plural monosyllabic words. Because of semantic and grammatical cues that support word1morpheme recognition in sentence materials, the contribution of high-frequency audibility to sentence recognition is less than that for isolated words. However, young children may not yet have the linguistic competence to take advantage of these cues. A low-predictability sentence recognition task that controls for language ability could be used to assess the impact of high-frequency audibility in a context that more closely represents how children learn language. Purpose: To determine if differences exist in recognition of s/z-inflected monosyllabic words for children with normal hearing (CNH) and children who are hard of hearing (CHH) across stimuli context (presented in isolation versus embedded medially within a sentence that has low semantic and syntactic predictability) and varying levels of high-frequency audibility (4- and 8-kHz low-pass filtered for CNH and 8-kHz low-pass filtered for CHH). Research Design: A prospective, cross-sectional design was used to analyze word1morpheme recognition in noise for stimuli varying in grammatical context and high-frequency audibility. Low-predictability sentence stimuli were created so that the target word1morpheme could not be predicted by semantic or syntactic cues. Electroacoustic measures of aided access to high-frequency speech sounds were used to predict individual differences in recognition for CHH. Study Sample: Thirty-five children, aged 5-12 yrs, were recruited to participate in the study; 24 CNH and 11 CHH (bilateral mild to severe hearing loss) who wore hearing AIDS (HAs). All children were native speakers of English. Data Collection and Analysis: Monosyllabic word1morpheme recognition was measured in isolated and sentence-embedded conditions at a110 dB signal-to-noise ratio using steady state, speech-shaped noise. Real-ear probe microphone measures of HAs were obtained for CHH. To assess the effects of high-frequency audibility on word1morpheme recognition for CNH, a repeated-measures ANOVA was used with bandwidth (8 kHz, 4 kHz) and context (isolated, sentence embedded) as within-subjects factors. To compare recognition between CNH and CHH, a mixed-model ANOVA was completed with context (isolated, sentence-embedded) as a within-subjects factor and hearing status as a between-subjects factor. Bivariate correlations between word1morpheme recognition scores and electroacoustic measures of high-frequency audibility were used to assess which measures might be sensitive to differences in perception for CHH. Results: When high-frequency audibility was maximized, CNH and CHH had better word1morpheme recognition in the isolated condition compared with sentence-embedded. When high-frequency audibility was limited, CNH had better word1morpheme recognition in the sentence-embedded condition compared with the isolated condition. CHH whose HAs had greater high-frequency speech bandwidth, as measured by the maximum audible frequency, had better word1morpheme recognition in sentences. Conclusions: High-frequency audibility supports word1morpheme recognition within low-predictability sentences for both CNH and CHH. Maximum audible frequency can be used to estimate word1morpheme recognition for CHH. Low-predictability sentences that do not contain semantic or grammatical context may be of clinical use in estimating children's use of high-frequency audibility in a manner that approximates how they learn language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)799-809
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Audiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • High-frequency audibility
  • Linguistic context
  • Morpheme recognition
  • Pediatric hearing loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Speech and Hearing


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