Questions Without Movement A Study of Cantonese-Speaking Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 2004
Questions Without Movement
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Anita M.-Y. Wong
    University of Hong Kong
  • Laurence B. Leonard
    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • Paul Fletcher
    University College, Cork, Ireland
  • Stephanie F. Stokes
    University of Northumbria, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: amywong@hkusua.hku.hk
  • Contact author: Anita M.-Y. Wong, Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Hong Kong, Prince Philip Dental Hospital, 5th Floor, 34 Hospital Road, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong-SAR, China.
    Contact author: Anita M.-Y. Wong, Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Hong Kong, Prince Philip Dental Hospital, 5th Floor, 34 Hospital Road, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong-SAR, China.×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 2004
Questions Without Movement
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2004, Vol. 47, 1440-1453. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/107)
History: Received November 25, 2003 , Revised March 18, 2004 , Accepted May 11, 2004
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2004, Vol. 47, 1440-1453. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/107)
History: Received November 25, 2003; Revised March 18, 2004; Accepted May 11, 2004
Web of Science® Times Cited: 18

English-speaking children with specific language impairment (SLI) appear to have special difficulty in the use of who-object questions (e.g., Who is the girl chasing?). It has been argued that problems related to grammatical movement may be responsible for this difficulty. However, it is also possible that the lower frequency of who-object questions relative to who-subject questions also plays a role. In this study, the use of who-object and who-subject questions by children with SLI who were acquiring Cantonese as their 1st language was examined. In Cantonese, the surface form of who-object questions (e.g., hung4zai2 sek3 bin1go3? [Bear kiss who?]) reflects the same subject, verb, object order typically used for declarative sentences, and a movement account provides no basis for expecting special difficulties with such questions. As in English, however, Cantonese who-object questions occur less frequently than do who-subject questions. A comparison of preschoolers with SLI, typically developing same-age peers, and younger, typically developing peers revealed that the children with SLI were less accurate in using who-object questions than either of the other participant groups yet showed no differences from these groups in the use of who-subject questions (e.g., bin1go3 sek3 zyu1zyu1? [Who kiss Piglet?]). The implications of these findings for current accounts of SLI are discussed, and the idea that input frequency and animacy may play a larger role than is often assumed is suggested.

Acknowledgments
The research reported in this article was supported by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant R01 00-458 and by the Hong Kong Christian Service Choi Wan and Yuen Long Early Education and Training Centres; the Spastics Association of Hong Kong Wang Tau Hom and Tak Tin Early Education and Training Centres; the Speech and Language Clinic at the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Hong Kong; Pamela Youde Child Assessment Centre, Yan Chai Hospital; and other speech therapy service providers in Hong Kong. We thank the children and families who participated. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Anna Lee, Eva Chau, Serena Chan, Lina Wong, Cora Lee, and Patricia Deevy.
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