The Argument-Structure Complexity Effect in Children With Specific Language Impairment: Evidence From the Use of Grammatical Morphemes in French Purpose The hypothesis that the linguistic deficit presented by children with specific language impairment (SLI) is caused by limited cognitive resources (e.g., S. Ellis Weismer & L. Hesketh, 1996) was tested against the hypothesis of a limitation in linguistic knowledge (e.g., M. L. Rice, K. Wexler, & P. Cleave, 1995). ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2008
The Argument-Structure Complexity Effect in Children With Specific Language Impairment: Evidence From the Use of Grammatical Morphemes in French
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Fabrizio Pizzioli
    Université catholique de Louvain
  • Marie-Anne Schelstraete
    Université catholique de Louvain
  • Contact author: Fabrizio Pizzioli, Unité Cognition et Développement, Université catholique de Louvain, Place Cardinal Mercier, 10, 1348 Louvain-la-neuve, Belgium. E-mail: fabrizio.pizzioli@uclouvain.be.
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2008
The Argument-Structure Complexity Effect in Children With Specific Language Impairment: Evidence From the Use of Grammatical Morphemes in French
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2008, Vol. 51, 706-721. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/050)
History: Received December 15, 2005 , Revised December 18, 2006 , Accepted September 12, 2007
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2008, Vol. 51, 706-721. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/050)
History: Received December 15, 2005; Revised December 18, 2006; Accepted September 12, 2007
Web of Science® Times Cited: 11

Purpose The hypothesis that the linguistic deficit presented by children with specific language impairment (SLI) is caused by limited cognitive resources (e.g., S. Ellis Weismer & L. Hesketh, 1996) was tested against the hypothesis of a limitation in linguistic knowledge (e.g., M. L. Rice, K. Wexler, & P. Cleave, 1995).

Method The study examined the influence of the argument-structure complexity of a target sentence on the production of grammatical morphemes in French children with SLI compared with younger children matched for grammatical level in production (GL) and children of the same chronological age (CA). A sentence production task was used where the target sentences varied in terms of argument complexity and length.

Results The results indicated that children with SLI used articles and auxiliaries in obligatory contexts significantly less often than both the GL and CA control groups: More complex argument structures elicited the highest number of grammatical morpheme omissions; this effect was larger in children with SLI than in the GL group and was independent of the length of the sentences, which failed to show any influence on the production of grammatical morphemes.

Conclusion These results support the hypothesis that grammatical-morpheme deficit in SLI depends at least in part on limited processing capacities.

Acknowledgments
The research reported in this article was supported by a Research Grant from the FSR (Fond Spécial pour la Recherche). The authors thank Susan Ellis Weismer, Agnesa Pillon, and Stavroula Stavrakaki for their helpful comments and Sophie Rechon for her assistance with data collection.
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