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Nonword repetition, phonological memory, and vocabulary: A reply to Snowling, Chiat, and Hulme.
Gathercole, S.E., Willis, C.S. & Baddeley, A.D.
Applied Psycholinguistics, 12, 375-379.
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The opportunity taken by Snowling, Chiat, and Hulme to step into the debate concerning the nature of the relationship between nonword repetition abilities and vocabulary acquisition in young children should be welcomed. Vocabulary size is strongly associated with a range of abilities, including general intelligence scores, reading ability, reading comprehension, and school success (e.g., Anderson & Freebody, 1981) and as a consequence, vocabulary knowledge provides the major index of verbal intelligence in many standardized ability tests used with both children and adults. Given the weight attached by psychologists to vocabulary knowledge, it seems surprising that until recently the cognitive processes underpinning word learning had been largely neglected. Any progress in understanding the psychological constraints in vocabulary development, whether it takes the form of informed theoretical debate or further empirical work, should therefore be encouraged. At a more detailed level, however, we find that the comments made by Snowling and colleagues on our article in this issue (Gathercole, Willis, Emslie & Baddeley, 1991) lack both theoretical and empirical substance. Here we respond to their main objections to our article which reported the factors influencing nonword repetition performance in a large-scale longitudinal study of children aged between 4 and 6 years.