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Poems were elicited from 133 English children between two and six and 171 Italian children between three and seven, using a similar technique, and the results were compared. Both groups produced large numbers of poems. There were great similarities and some differences. The majority of poems in both samples contained phonological devices (mostly rhyme and alliteration) and the proportion was higher (87 %) in the Italian sample than in the English sample (59 %). The proportion of poems that contained rhyme was close to 45 % in each sample, with no consistent age difference in either sample. About one-third of Italian poems and just over a fifth of English poems contained alliteration. The frequency of alliteration declined with age in the English sample but not in the Italian sample. Possible reasons for the differences between the samples are considered. It is argued that the similarities are more important, and their theoretical implications are discussed.


Journal article


Journal of Child Language


Cambridge University Press

Publication Date





697 - 706


Ann Dowker, Oxford University, Dept of Experimental Psychology, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3UD, England, Giuliana Pinto, University of Florence, Dipartimento di Psicologia, Via San Nicolo 93, Florence, I-50125, Italy


Young children, Phonological awareness, Poems, Language play, Rhyme, Alliteration