The Leading-Edge The Significance of Sentence Disruptions in the Development of Grammar Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 2001
The Leading-Edge
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Matthew Rispoli
    Department of Communicative Disorders Northern Illinois University DeKalb
  • Pamela Hadley
    Department of Communicative Disorders Northern Illinois University DeKalb
  • Contact author: Matthew Rispoli, PhD, 303 Gilbert Hall, Department of Communicative Disorders, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115-2899.
    Contact author: Matthew Rispoli, PhD, 303 Gilbert Hall, Department of Communicative Disorders, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115-2899.×
  • Corresponding author: E-mail: mrispoli@niu.edu
Article Information
Development / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 2001
The Leading-Edge
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2001, Vol. 44, 1131-1143. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2001/089)
History: Received November 20, 2000 , Accepted May 3, 2001
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2001, Vol. 44, 1131-1143. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2001/089)
History: Received November 20, 2000; Accepted May 3, 2001
Web of Science® Times Cited: 39

This research explored the relationship between sentence disruptions and the length and complexity of sentences spoken by children developing grammar. The study was cross-sectional in design and used samples of naturalistic, conversational interaction between 26 typically developing children (ages 2;6 to 4;0) and a primary caregiver. The active, declarative sentences produced by these children were coded for the presence of disruption, length in morphemes and words, and clausal complexity. The results showed that, for the majority of the children, disrupted sentences tended to be longer and more complex than fluent sentences. The magnitude of the differences in length and complexity was positively correlated with the children's grammatical development, as measured by the Index of Productive Syntax. It was also found that differences between the average complexity of disrupted versus fluent sentences increased with grammatical development even when sentence length was held constant. As grammatical development proceeded, disrupted sentences were more apt to be sentences on the "leading-edge" of the child's production capacity. Although these more advanced grammatical structures are part of the child's grammatical competence, the child cannot produce these sentences without an increased risk of processing difficulty. The results are congruent with proposals concerning the incremental and procedural nature of adult sentence production.

Acknowledgments
This research was conducted with the support of grants from NSF SBR-9507849 and NIDCD R03DC03987-03 awarded to the first author. We would like to thank Faye Campagna, Decemna Chow, Sarah Dufek, Paula Finney, Sonya Givan, Anne Goodrich, Michelle Hill, and Melissa Menge, for their help in collecting, transcribing, and coding these data. We would also like to thank the parents and children who participated in this study for their cooperation.
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