Acquisition of Irregular Past Tense by Children With Specific Language Impairment In this paper we add to what is known about the tense-marking limitations of children with specific language impairment (SLI) by exploring the acquisition of regular and irregular past tense, encompassing the age range of 2;6 to 8;9 (years;months) and comparing the performance of 21 children with SLI to that ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 2000
Acquisition of Irregular Past Tense by Children With Specific Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Mabel L. Rice
    University of Kansas Lawrence
  • Kenneth Wexler
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge
  • Janet Marquis
    University of Kansas Lawrence
  • Scott Hershberger
    California State at Long Beach
  • Contact author: Mabel L. Rice, PhD, Child Language Doctoral Program University of Kansas, 1082 Dole, Lawrence, KS 66045. Email: mabel@ukans.edu
    Contact author: Mabel L. Rice, PhD, Child Language Doctoral Program University of Kansas, 1082 Dole, Lawrence, KS 66045. Email: mabel@ukans.edu×
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: mabel@ukans.edu
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 2000
Acquisition of Irregular Past Tense by Children With Specific Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2000, Vol. 43, 1126-1144. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4305.1126
History: Received September 30, 1999 , Accepted July 5, 2000
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2000, Vol. 43, 1126-1144. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4305.1126
History: Received September 30, 1999; Accepted July 5, 2000

In this paper we add to what is known about the tense-marking limitations of children with specific language impairment (SLI) by exploring the acquisition of regular and irregular past tense, encompassing the age range of 2;6 to 8;9 (years;months) and comparing the performance of 21 children with SLI to that of 23 control children of the same age and 20 younger control children of equivalent mean length of utterance (MLU) at the outset. The analysis differentiated between the morphophonological component of past tense marking and the morphosyntactic component (finiteness). In the morphosyntactic component, the performance of the SLI group trails that of the two control groups over 3.5 years, whereas in the morphophonological component, the SLI group's performance is equivalent to that of the younger controls. Models of growth curves for regular past tense and irregular finiteness marking show the same pattern, with linear and quadratic components and the child's MLU at the outset as the only predictor. For morphophonological growth the picture changes, with an interaction of linear trend and MLU and the child's receptive vocabulary emerging as a predictor. The findings support a morphosyntactic model, such as the extended optional infinitive (EOI) model, with regard to the limitations in finiteness marking and for affected children.

Acknowledgments
This investigation was supported by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Award R01 DC01803 to Mabel L. Rice and Kenneth Wexler. We wish to express our appreciation to the participants in the study and their parents and teachers, who graciously contributed their time and efforts to our ongoing investigations. The work required the assistance of a number of lab participants. We especially thank Karla Rice for her oversight of data collection and multiple valuable suggestions; Hiromi Morikawa for her management of the database and calculations of the outcomes and Mary Howe for her early contributions in this position; Sean Redmond for his assistance with data collection and insightful comments; Patsy Woods for preparation of the manuscript and other valuable assistance; and the following lab assistants: Patricia Cleave, Chien Wang, Su Dong Chen, Laura Smith, Carol Schekall, Candice Odle, Fiona Carswell, and Sara Tweed. Preliminary reports of this investigation were presented at the Symposium on Research in Child Language Disorders, June 1999, and at the Boston University Conference on Language Development, November 1999.
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