Utterance Length and Lexical Diversity in Cantonese-Speaking Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment Two studies of children's conversational language abilities are reported. In the first, mean length of utterance (MLU) and lexical diversity (D) were examined in a group of typically developing Cantonese-speaking children in Hong Kong. Regression analyses indicated a significant linear relationship between MLU and age (R = .44) and a ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 2004
Utterance Length and Lexical Diversity in Cantonese-Speaking Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Thomas Klee
    University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom
  • Stephanie F. Stokes
    University of Northumbria, Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom
  • Anita M.-Y. Wong
    University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, SAR
  • Paul Fletcher
    University College Cork, Ireland
  • William J. Gavin
    University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: thomas.klee@newcastle.ac.uk
  • Contact author: Thomas Klee, School of Education, Communication & Language Sciences, University of Newcastle, King George VI Building, Queen Victoria Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 7RU United Kingdom.
    Contact author: Thomas Klee, School of Education, Communication & Language Sciences, University of Newcastle, King George VI Building, Queen Victoria Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 7RU United Kingdom.×
  • Stephanie F. Stokes is now at the University of Reading.
    Stephanie F. Stokes is now at the University of Reading.×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 2004
Utterance Length and Lexical Diversity in Cantonese-Speaking Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2004, Vol. 47, 1396-1410. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/104)
History: Received November 5, 2003 , Revised April 7, 2004 , Accepted April 29, 2004
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2004, Vol. 47, 1396-1410. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/104)
History: Received November 5, 2003; Revised April 7, 2004; Accepted April 29, 2004
Web of Science® Times Cited: 40

Two studies of children's conversational language abilities are reported. In the first, mean length of utterance (MLU) and lexical diversity (D) were examined in a group of typically developing Cantonese-speaking children in Hong Kong. Regression analyses indicated a significant linear relationship between MLU and age (R = .44) and a significant curvilinear relationship between D and age (R = .73) in children age 27–68 months. MLU and D were moderately correlated with each other (r = .23); however, the two measures showed no statistical relationship when the effect of age was partialled out. In a second study, the utterances of Chinese children with specific language impairment (SLI) were found to be significantly shorter and less lexically diverse than typically developing children matched for age but similar to children matched for comprehension level. Discriminant analyses revealed that the combination of age, MLU, and D could be used to accurately differentiate children with SLI from both age-matched and language-matched children. Based on these findings, we hypothesize that these measures can be used jointly as a marker of SLI in Cantonese-speaking children.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported in part by the Hong Kong University Grants Commission (Grant 7192/97H). The first author would like to thank the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong for supporting him as a Marden Foundation Visiting Research Fellow in 2002, during which time this project was begun. We also would like to thank Andrew Kong, Sam Leung, and Zehava Weizman for their role in data collection and transcription. Portions of this paper were presented at the 9th Meeting of the International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association in Hong Kong in 2002 and the 25th Annual Symposium on Research in Child Language Disorders in Madison, WI, in 2004.
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