Syntactic Frames in Fast Mapping Verbs: Effect of Age, Dialect, and Clinical Status Purpose To investigate children’s performance on a fast mapping task. Possible effects across age, dialect group, and clinical status were explored. Method Participants between the ages of 4 and 9 saw a series of pictured events and heard novel verbs. The novel verbs were in intransitive, transitive, dative, ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2009
Syntactic Frames in Fast Mapping Verbs: Effect of Age, Dialect, and Clinical Status
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Valerie E. Johnson
    University of Connecticut, Storrs
  • Jill G. de Villiers
    Smith College, Northampton, MA
  • Contact author: Valerie E. Johnson, who is now with Montclair State University, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, 1 Normal Avenue, Montclair, NJ 07043. E-mail: johnsonv@mail.montclair.edu.
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language Disorders / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2009
Syntactic Frames in Fast Mapping Verbs: Effect of Age, Dialect, and Clinical Status
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2009, Vol. 52, 610-622. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/07-0135)
History: Received June 20, 2007 , Revised December 4, 2007 , Accepted October 1, 2008
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2009, Vol. 52, 610-622. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/07-0135)
History: Received June 20, 2007; Revised December 4, 2007; Accepted October 1, 2008
Web of Science® Times Cited: 9

Purpose To investigate children’s performance on a fast mapping task. Possible effects across age, dialect group, and clinical status were explored.

Method Participants between the ages of 4 and 9 saw a series of pictured events and heard novel verbs. The novel verbs were in intransitive, transitive, dative, and complement syntactic frames or argument structures. The children then had to answer questions about the novel verbs that revealed what meaning they had attached to them. The field-testing of a new assessment instrument provided the data for typically developing children and children with language impairment from 2 linguistic communities: (a) mainstream American English speaking and (b) African American English speaking. Strict criteria were used for the 529 participants that defined both their clinical and dialect status.

Results There were significant effects of age and clinical status on the participants' ability to fast map a novel verb from its argument structure, but no significant effects for dialect.

Conclusions Regardless of dialect, children with specific language impairment have difficulty using syntactic frames to identify a likely meaning of a novel verb. In addition, the syntactic frames are differentially difficult, with complement structures being particularly hard.

Acknowledgments
This work was funded in part by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Contract N01 DC8-2104 and Grant R01 DC 02172-04 to Harry Seymour, principal investigator, at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, with Thomas Roeper and Jill de Villiers at the University of Massachusetts and Smith College as co-investigators. This research was accomplished in conjunction with The Psychological Corporation of Harcourt Assessment, Inc., San Antonio, TX.
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