Production of Tense Morphology by Afrikaans-Speaking Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment PurposeTo establish whether the predictions of the extended optional infinitive (EOI) hypothesis (Rice, Wexler, & Cleave, 1995) hold for the language of Afrikaans-speaking children with specific language impairment (SLI) and whether tense marking is a possible clinical marker of SLI in Afrikaans.MethodProduction of tense morphology was examined in 3 groups ... Article
Article  |   April 01, 2010
Production of Tense Morphology by Afrikaans-Speaking Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment
 
Author Notes
  • Contact author: Frenette Southwood, Department of General Linguistics, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, Stellenbosch, South Africa. E-mail: fs@sun.ac.za.
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language
Article   |   April 01, 2010
Production of Tense Morphology by Afrikaans-Speaking Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2010, Vol. 53, 394-413. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/07-0286)
History: Received December 30, 2007 , Revised June 12, 2008 , Accepted June 15, 2009
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2010, Vol. 53, 394-413. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/07-0286)
History: Received December 30, 2007; Revised June 12, 2008; Accepted June 15, 2009
Web of Science® Times Cited: 3

PurposeTo establish whether the predictions of the extended optional infinitive (EOI) hypothesis (Rice, Wexler, & Cleave, 1995) hold for the language of Afrikaans-speaking children with specific language impairment (SLI) and whether tense marking is a possible clinical marker of SLI in Afrikaans.

MethodProduction of tense morphology was examined in 3 groups of Afrikaans-speaking children—15 with SLI who were 6 years old, 15 typically developing (TD) 4-year-olds matched on mean length of utterance, and 15 TD 6-year-olds—using both elicited and spontaneously produced verb forms.

ResultsOn the sentence completion task, children with SLI fared on par with 4-year-olds and worse than age-matched peers. However, in terms of spontaneous production of morphemes pertaining to tense, children with SLI fared worse than both TD groups. Furthermore, children with SLI mostly made the same types of errors as 4-year-olds, although some errors were unique to the SLI group. Most errors entailed omissions, of modal and temporal auxiliaries as well as of copula be.

ConclusionThe errors offer support for the EOI hypothesis. Tense marking has the potential to be a clinical marker of SLI in Afrikaans, but further research with larger groups of Afrikaans-speaking children, including children of other ages, is needed to confirm this.

Acknowledgment
This material is based on work financially supported by the National Research Foundation of South Africa. Any opinion, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors, and therefore the National Research Foundation does not accept any liability in regard thereto.
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