Did I say dog or cat? A study of semantic error detection and correction in children

J. Richard Hanley, Cathleen Cortis, Mary Jane Budd, Nazbanou Nozari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Although naturalistic studies of spontaneous speech suggest that young children can monitor their speech, the mechanisms for detection and correction of speech errors in children are not well understood. In particular, there is little research on monitoring semantic errors in this population. This study provides a systematic investigation of detection and correction of semantic errors in children between the ages of 5 and 8. years as they produced sentences to describe simple visual events involving nine highly familiar animals (the moving animals task). Results showed that older children made fewer errors and corrected a larger proportion of the errors that they made than younger children. We then tested the prediction of a production-based account of error monitoring that the strength of the language production system, and specifically its semantic-lexical component, should be correlated with the ability to detect and repair semantic errors. Strength of semantic-lexical mapping, as well as lexical-phonological mapping, was estimated individually for children by fitting their error patterns, obtained from an independent picture-naming task, to a computational model of language production. Children's picture-naming performance was predictive of their ability to monitor their semantic errors above and beyond age. This relationship was specific to the strength of the semantic-lexical part of the system, as predicted by the production-based monitor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-47
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Error repair
  • Language development
  • Production monitor
  • Semantic errors
  • Speech errors
  • Speech production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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