Negative Concord in Child African American English Implications for Specific Language Impairment Research Article
Research Article  |   February 01, 2004
Negative Concord in Child African American English
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • D'Jaris Coles-White
    Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
  • Contact author: D’Jaris Coles-White, PhD, Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, Wayne State University, 906 West Warren Avenue, 581 Alex Manoogian Hall, Detroit, MI 48202. E-mail: ae8202@wayne.edu
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 01, 2004
Negative Concord in Child African American English
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2004, Vol. 47, 212-222. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/018)
History: Received February 19, 2003 , Accepted June 16, 2003
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2004, Vol. 47, 212-222. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/018)
History: Received February 19, 2003; Accepted June 16, 2003
Web of Science® Times Cited: 5

In this study, African American English (AAE)-speaking children's comprehension of 2 different types of double negative sentences was examined and contrasted with that of a comparison group of Standard American English (SAE)-speaking children. The first type of double negative, negative concord, involves 2 negative elements in a sentence that are interpreted together as single negation. The second type of double negative, called true double negation, involves 2 negatives that are interpreted as independent negatives. A cross-sectional cohort of 61 (35 AAE, 26 SAE) typically developing children ranging in age from 5;2 (years;months) to 7;11 participated. The children responded to story-based grammatical judgment tasks that required them to differentiate between negative concord and true double negation. Results revealed no statistically significant differences between AAE- and SAE-speaking children in the way they interpreted negative concord and true double negation. However, there were significantly more correct responses to negative concord sentences across combined groups. In particular, the older children (i.e., 7-year-olds) produced more correct responses to negative concord than did the younger group (i.e., 5-year-olds). Explanations for these findings are framed in terms of children's knowledge about sentences with 2 negatives, the constraints affecting the interpretation of 2 negatives that include negative concord, and the clinical importance of negative concord for assessing specific language impairment in child AAE speakers.

Acknowledgments
The research in this report was supported by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)/Office of Research on Minority Health Grant R03DC97002 as part of the fulfillment for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in the Department of Communication Disorders. Research report preparation was supported in part by NIDCD Grant K23 DC 00181.
Acknowledgments are extended to Harry Seymour, Tom Roeper, and Jill de Villiers. I am grateful for input and discussion provided by them on an earlier version of this research report submitted as a doctorial dissertation. Acknowledgments are also extended to Julie Washington and Ljiljana Provogac for their helpful comments and mentoring while I was working on the current version of this research report. Further appreciation is extended to the principals and teachers of elementary schools, and the families of the participants in Springfield, MA, and Hartford, CT, for their support of this project.
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