Article/Report  |   June 2007
Specific Language Impairment in French-Speaking Children: Beyond Grammatical Morphology
Author Notes
  • Contact author: Elin T. Thordardottir, School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, McGill University, 1266 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, Quebec H3G 1A8, Canada. E-mail: elin.thordardottir@mcgill.ca.
Article Information
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language
Article/Report   |   June 2007
Specific Language Impairment in French-Speaking Children: Beyond Grammatical Morphology
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2007, Vol. 50, 698-715. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/049)
History: Received August 3, 2005 , Revised January 30, 2006 , Accepted August 21, 2006
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2007, Vol. 50, 698-715. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/049)
History: Received August 3, 2005; Revised January 30, 2006; Accepted August 21, 2006
Web of Science® Times Cited: 18

Purpose: Studies on specific language impairment (SLI) in French have identified specific aspects of morphosyntax as particularly vulnerable. However, a cohesive picture of relative strengths and weaknesses characterizing SLI in French has not been established. In light of normative data showing low morphological error rates in the spontaneous language of French-speaking preschoolers, the relative prominence of such errors in SLI in young children was questioned.

Method: Spontaneous language samples were collected from 12 French-speaking preschool-age children with SLI, as well as 12 children with normal language development matched on age and 12 children with normal language development matched on mean length of utterance. Language samples were analyzed for length of utterance; lexical diversity and composition; diversity of grammatical morphology and morphological errors, including verb finiteness; subject omission; and object clitics.

Results: Children with SLI scored lower than age-matched children on all of these measures but similarly to the mean length of utterance–matched controls. Errors in grammatical morphology were very infrequent in all groups, with no significant group differences.

Conclusion: The results indicate that the spontaneous language of French-speaking children with SLI in the preschool age range is characterized primarily by a generalized language impairment and that morphological deficits do not stand out as an area of particular vulnerability, in contrast with the pattern found in English for this age group.

Acknowledgments
This study was supported by Grant 2002-NC-72722 from the Fonds pour la formation de chercheurs et l’aide à la recherche (FCAR) awarded to Elin T. Thordardottir and partially by an FCAR team grant awarded to Lydia White, Martha Crago, Fred Genesee, Nigel Duffield, Heather Goad, Philippe Prévost, and Elin Thordardottir. We acknowledge the assistance of Marie-Eve Rivard, Charles Fugère, Phaedra Royle, and Julia Levy, as well as the children and parents who generously took time to participate in this study.
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