Children With SLI Use Argument Structure Cues to Learn Verbs Across two tasks, children's use of argument structure cues to learn verbs was tested. In Task 1, we examined children's use of cues to interpret novel verbs while viewing single action scenes. In Task 2, we examined the role of cues for novel verb interpretation and retention through a story ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 1999
Children With SLI Use Argument Structure Cues to Learn Verbs
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Janna B. Oetting
    Louisiana State University Baton Rouge
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: cdjanna@lsu.edu
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 1999
Children With SLI Use Argument Structure Cues to Learn Verbs
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1999, Vol. 42, 1261-1274. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4205.1261
History: Received September 12, 1998 , Accepted April 7, 1999
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1999, Vol. 42, 1261-1274. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4205.1261
History: Received September 12, 1998; Accepted April 7, 1999

Across two tasks, children's use of argument structure cues to learn verbs was tested. In Task 1, we examined children's use of cues to interpret novel verbs while viewing single action scenes. In Task 2, we examined the role of cues for novel verb interpretation and retention through a story viewing task. The participants were 20 6-year-olds who were diagnosed as specifically language impaired (SLI) and 40 normally developing children who served as either age-matched or language-matched controls.

Across tasks, the children with SLI demonstrated an ability to use cues to interpret verb meaning. For Task 1, scores of the children with SLI were not significantly different from those of either control group; for Task 2, their scores exceeded chance and were not found to be different from those obtained by the language-matched controls. When verb retention was examined, scores of the children with SLI were lower than those of both control groups, and they also did not exceed chance even after repeated exposure to the stimuli and additional testing. Patterns within the data ruled out inattention and an inability to follow the narrative as contributing to the children's low scores. Additionally, poor verb retention was not found to be related to a limitation in the perception and encoding of the cue content. Specific deficits with the storage and retrieval of grammatical information within the lexicon, general working memory/capacity limitations, or both are posited as plausible, but unconfirmed, explanations for the verb retention difficulties of the children with SLI.

Acknowledgments
The work was supported by a Research and Development grant from the Louisiana Education Quality Support Fund. Appreciation is extended to Amy Brock, Julie Cantrell, Jennifer Depew, Lenore Frigo, Dia McGowen, and Myra Redlich for help with data collection; Sean Redmond for help with data analysis; and Pam Hadley and Janet McDonald for comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. Special appreciations is extended to the children, families, and staff of Ascension Parish, LA, who participated in the project. Portions of the data were presented at the 1997 Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Boston, MA.
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