Tense and Temporality A Comparison Between Children Learning a Second Language and Children With SLI Research Article
Research Article  |   August 2000
Tense and Temporality
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Johanne Paradis
    McGill University Montreal, Canada
  • Martha Crago
    McGill University Montreal, Canada
Article Information
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Genetic & Congenital Disorders / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 2000
Tense and Temporality
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2000, Vol. 43, 834-847. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4304.834
History: Received May 3, 1999 , Accepted February 9, 2000
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2000, Vol. 43, 834-847. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4304.834
History: Received May 3, 1999; Accepted February 9, 2000

This study compares the morphosyntax of children with SLI to the morphosyntax of children acquiring a second language (L2) to determine whether the optional infinitive phenomenon (M. Rice, K. Wexler, & P. Cleave, 1995; K. Wexler, 1994) is evident in both learner groups and to what extent cross-learner similarities exist. We analyzed spontaneous production data from French-speaking children with SLI, English-speaking L2 learners of French, and French-speaking controls, all approximately 7 years old. We examined the children's use of tense morphology, temporal adverbials, agreement morphology, and distributional contingencies associated with finiteness. Our findings indicate that the use of morphosyntax by children with SLI and by L2 children has significant similarities, although certain specific differences exist. Both the children with SLI and the L2 children demonstrate optional infinitive effects in their language use. These results have theoretical and clinical relevance. First, they suggest that the characterization of the optional infinitive phenomenon in normal development as a consequence of very early neurological change may be too restrictive. Our data appear to indicate that the mechanism underlying the optional infinitive phenomenon extends to normal (second) language learning after the primary acquisition years. Second, they indicate that tense-marking difficulty may not be an adequate clinical marker of SLI when comparing children with impairment to both monolingual and bilingual peers. A more specific clinical marker would be more effective in diagnosing disordered populations in a multilingual context.

Acknowledgments
We would like to thank Mathieu Le Corre and Julie Bélanger for their assistance in data coding and analysis. This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada in the form of a research grant (410-98-0281) to Martha Crago and a postdoctoral fellowship (756-97-0025) to Johanne Paradis, for which we are grateful.
Order a Subscription
Pay Per View
Entire Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research content & archive
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access