Past-Tense Marking by Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment This study examined the productivity and representation of past-tense marking in children with and without specific language impairment (SLI). Participants were 11 6-year-olds with SLI, 11 age-matched controls, and 11 MLU-matched controls. Regular and irregular verbs were used to examine the productivity of regular marking. Past-tense representation was examined by ... Research Article
Research Article  |   February 01, 1997
Past-Tense Marking by Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Janna B. Oetting
    Louisiana State University Baton Rouge
  • Janice E. Horohov
    Louisiana State University Baton Rouge
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 01, 1997
Past-Tense Marking by Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 1997, Vol. 40, 62-74. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4001.62
History: Received January 10, 1996 , Accepted July 31, 1996
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 1997, Vol. 40, 62-74. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4001.62
History: Received January 10, 1996; Accepted July 31, 1996

This study examined the productivity and representation of past-tense marking in children with and without specific language impairment (SLI). Participants were 11 6-year-olds with SLI, 11 age-matched controls, and 11 MLU-matched controls. Regular and irregular verbs were used to examine the productivity of regular marking. Past-tense representation was examined by asking children to inflect homophonous pairs of denominal and irregular root verbs. All three groups demonstrated productive marking of past tense, although as expected the accuracy of the impaired group was less than that of either control group. Patterns of past-tense marking as a function of a word's phonological composition and inflectional frequency were the same for the SLI- and MLU-matched groups, and all children presented a past-tense system that was sensitive to grammatical structure. The findings replicate previous research of the SLI morphological system and provide additional specification of these children's morphological strengths and weaknesses. Strengths include the children's sensitivity to grammatical and phonological characteristics of the lexicon; weaknesses include limited productivity of regular past-tense marking and a greater sensitivity to frequency manipulations as compared to normally developing children. Results are discussed in terms of the nature of the SLI profile. They also are used to evaluate the theoretical model on which the study was based.

Acknowledgments
The study was funded by a 1993 New Investigator's Grant from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation and a 1994 Summer Research Stipend from Louisiana State University. Preliminary analysis of the data from the children with SLI was presented at the Fourth Congress of the International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association and is published in the conference proceedings (Oetting, Horohov, & Costanza, 1995). Special appreciation is expressed to Amy L. Costanza for assistance with the data collection; Julie P. Cantrell and Marsha R. Thibodeaux for assistance with language-sample transcription; Michael Ullman for completing computerized searches of the frequency counts of the stimuli; and the children, families, speech-language pathologists, and teachers of Ascension Parish who participated or supported the research.
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