Functional Categories in the Grammars of Children With Specific Language Impairment Children with specific language impairment often show a serious limitation in their use of grammatical morphemes such as verb inflections and free-standing closed-class forms. The purpose of this study was to determine whether such difficulty constitutes a problem with entire functional categories. Examination of the spontaneous speech of a group ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 1995
Functional Categories in the Grammars of Children With Specific Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Laurence B. Leonard
    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • Contact author: Laurence B. Leonard, Audiology and Speech Sciences, Heavilon Hall, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.
    Contact author: Laurence B. Leonard, Audiology and Speech Sciences, Heavilon Hall, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 1995
Functional Categories in the Grammars of Children With Specific Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1995, Vol. 38, 1270-1283. doi:10.1044/jshr.3806.1270
History: Received July 8, 1994 , Accepted March 31, 1995
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1995, Vol. 38, 1270-1283. doi:10.1044/jshr.3806.1270
History: Received July 8, 1994; Accepted March 31, 1995

Children with specific language impairment often show a serious limitation in their use of grammatical morphemes such as verb inflections and free-standing closed-class forms. The purpose of this study was to determine whether such difficulty constitutes a problem with entire functional categories. Examination of the spontaneous speech of a group of 10 English-speaking children with specific language impairment revealed clear evidence of each of the functional categories examined: Determiner, Inflection, and Complementizer. However, relative to younger normally developing children with comparable mean utterance lengths, these children showed lower percentages of use of many of the grammatical elements associated with these functional categories. The utility of employing a functional category framework in the study of specific language impairment and the implications of the findings for other accounts of this disorder are discussed.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by Research Grant DC00458 from the National Institutes of Health. The author thanks Karla McGregor, Diane Loeb, Lisa Bedore, Julia Eyer, and Diane Ogiela for their help during various phases of this work.
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