Minding the gaps: Literacy enhances lexical segmentation in children learning to read

Naomi Havron, Inbal Arnon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Can emergent literacy impact the size of the linguistic units children attend to? We examined children's ability to segment multiword sequences before and after they learned to read, in order to disentangle the effect of literacy and age on segmentation. We found that early readers were better at segmenting multiword units (after controlling for age, cognitive, and linguistic variables), and that improvement in literacy skills between the two sessions predicted improvement in segmentation abilities. Together, these findings suggest that literacy acquisition, rather than age, enhanced segmentation. We discuss implications for models of language learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1516-1538
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Child Language
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by ISF Grant 52712 (to IA)

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Psychology (all)


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