Faculty profile

Jan Edwards

Jan Edwards

Dept. of Communicative Disorders
341 Goodnight Hall
(608) 262-6474


Research Keywords

language acquisition, phonological acquisition, language disorders, phonological disorders, cross-linguistic acquisition


  • Department of Communicative Disorders, Professor
  • Waisman Center, Research Scientist
  • Department of Psychology, affiliate

Current Projects

  • Principle Investigator, paidologos project

Research Collaborators

  • Susan Ellis Weismer, Communicative Disorders
  • Jenny Saffran, Psychology
  • Julie Washington, Communicative Disorders
  • Mark Seidenberg, Psychology
  • Mary Beckman, Ohio State University
  • Ben Munson, University of Minnesota

Representative Classes

  • Com Dis 315: Phonetics and Phonological Disorders
  • Com Dis 550: Capstone—Pediatrics

Research Statement

My research focuses on phonological development and the interactions between phonological acquisition and lexical acquisition. If children develop a phonological system based on generalizations over the lexicon, then children with larger vocabularies should have more finely-detailed phonological representations and, conversely, children with smaller vocabularies should have less finely-detailed phonological representations. We also expect to see an interaction between phonological development and lexical development. I’ve developed this line of research, examining the phonological and lexical development of both typically developing children (Edwards, Beckman, and Munson, 2004) and children with phonological disorders (Munson, Edwards, & Beckman, 2005). I am also interested in the how children acquire social-indexical phonological knowledge.

My current research, in collaboration with Mary Beckman of Ohio State University, focuses on a cross-linguistic examination of phonological acquisition. We are examining the acquisition of word-initial lingual obstruents in six languages (English, Greek, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, and Japanese) in two- through five-year-olds. We have found that phoneme frequency and also language-specific differences in fine phonetic detail influence phonological acquisition. For example, English-speaking children produce "s" accurately before they produce "sh" and have "s" for "sh" substitutions. The opposite pattern is seen in Japanese — Japanese-speaking children produce "sh" accurately before "s" and have "sh" for "s" substitutions. In English, "s" is relatively more frequent than "sh", while in Japanese "sh" is relatively more frequent than "s". Furthermore, the contrast between "s" and "sh" in English is an easier-to-produce change in place of articulation, while in Japanese it is the more difficult-to-produce change in tongue shape. In the next phase of the project, we plan to focus on English and one or two other languages and examine in more detail how children acquire both the language-specific fine phonetic details and the socio-phonetic knowledge of their ambient language.

Selected Publications

  • Ellis Weismer, S. & Edwards, J. (2006). The role of phonological storage deficits in specific language impairment: A reconsideration. Applied Psycholinguistics, 27, 556-562.
  • Munson, B., Edwards, J., & Beckman, M. E. (2005). Phonological Knowledge in Typical and Atypical Speech and Language Development: Nature, Assessment, and Treatment. Topics in Language Disorders, 25, 190-206.
  • Munson, B., Edwards, J., & Beckman, M. E. (2005). Relationships between nonword repetition accuracy and other measures of linguistic development in children with phonological disorders. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 48, 61-78.
  • Thomas-Tate, S., Washington, J., & Edwards, J. (2004). Standardized assessment of phonological awareness skills in low-income African American first graders. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 13, 182-190.
  • Edwards, J., Beckman, M. E., & Munson, B. (2004). The interaction between vocabulary size and phonotactic probability effects on children’s production accuracy and fluency in nonword repetition. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 47, 421-436.