Real-Time Inflectional Processing by Children With Specific Language Impairment Effects of Phonetic Substance Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 1998
Real-Time Inflectional Processing by Children With Specific Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • James W. Montgomery
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Laurence B. Leonard
    Purdue University
  • Contact author: James W. Montgomery, Wing D, CB #7190, Speech & Hearing Sciences, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599–7255. Email: Jmontgomery@css.unc.edu
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 1998
Real-Time Inflectional Processing by Children With Specific Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1998, Vol. 41, 1432-1443. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4106.1432
History: Received October 1, 1997 , Accepted April 17, 1998
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1998, Vol. 41, 1432-1443. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4106.1432
History: Received October 1, 1997; Accepted April 17, 1998

In this study, we examined the processing of low-phonetic- substance inflections (e.g., third-person-singular -s, past-tense -ed) versus a higher-phonetic-substance inflection (e.g., present-progressive -ing) by children with specific language impairment (SLI) in two types of receptive tasks. Twenty-one children with SLI (Age: 8 years;6 months), 21 chronological age matched (CA; Age: 8;7), and 21 receptive syntax matched (RS; Age: 6;8) children participated in a word-recognition reaction time (RT) task and an off-line task requiring grammaticality judgments. On the RT task, the children with SLI demonstrated RT sensitivity only to the presence of a higher-phonetic-substance inflection, unlike the CA and RS controls who displayed sensitivity to both higher-substance and low- substance inflections. On the grammaticality judgment task, the children with SLI performed more poorly than the CA controls only on sentences missing obligatory low-substance inflections (e.g., "Carl already jump over the fence"). The findings are discussed within the framework of the surface account, which predicts that children with SLI should have greater difficulty processing and making grammatical judgments about low-substance inflections compared to higher-substance inflections.

Acknowledgments
This study was supported by a research grant (R29 DC 02535) from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health; a Medical Research Foundation grant; and a University Research Council grant from the University of North Carolina. We would like to thank Rachel E. Stark for her generosity in sharing her CV stimuli, used in the speech perception task. Appreciation is also expressed to Billy Irwin who assisted with acoustic reliability procedures. We are grateful to the helpful comments provided by three anonymous reviewers and Susan Ellis Weismer on an earlier version of this paper. Finally, we thank the many children and their parents who participated in this study.
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