Factors Affecting Accuracy of Past Tense Production in Children With Specific Language Impairment And Their Typically Developing Peers: The Influence of Verb Transitivity, Clause Location, and Sentence Type PurposeThe author examined the influence of sentence type, clause order, and verb transitivity on the accuracy of children’s past tense productions. All groups of children, but especially children with specific language impairment (SLI), were predicted to decrease accuracy as linguistic complexity increased.MethodThe author elicited past tense productions in 2-clause sentences ... Article
Article  |   August 01, 2010
Factors Affecting Accuracy of Past Tense Production in Children With Specific Language Impairment And Their Typically Developing Peers: The Influence of Verb Transitivity, Clause Location, and Sentence Type
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Amanda J. Owen
    University of Iowa, Iowa City
  • Contact author: Amanda J. Owen, 121 A SHC, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, 250 Hawkins Drive, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242. E-mail: amanda-owen@uiowa.edu.
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language
Article   |   August 01, 2010
Factors Affecting Accuracy of Past Tense Production in Children With Specific Language Impairment And Their Typically Developing Peers: The Influence of Verb Transitivity, Clause Location, and Sentence Type
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2010, Vol. 53, 993-1014. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/09-0039)
History: Received February 23, 2009 , Revised July 6, 2009 , Accepted November 3, 2009
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2010, Vol. 53, 993-1014. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/09-0039)
History: Received February 23, 2009; Revised July 6, 2009; Accepted November 3, 2009
Web of Science® Times Cited: 12

PurposeThe author examined the influence of sentence type, clause order, and verb transitivity on the accuracy of children’s past tense productions. All groups of children, but especially children with specific language impairment (SLI), were predicted to decrease accuracy as linguistic complexity increased.

MethodThe author elicited past tense productions in 2-clause sentences from 5- to 8-year-old children with SLI (n = 14) and their typically developing peers (n = 24). The target sentences varied in the type and obligatory nature of the second clause and the number of arguments.

ResultsOn average, 85% of the responses across all groups and sentence types contained 2 clauses. Fewer 2-clause sentences were produced in the complement clause condition than in the other conditions. Sentence type and clause order, but not argument structure, influenced use of past tense. Children with SLI had a similar but less accurate profile as compared with the age-matched group. The younger mean length of utterance (MLU)–matched group reflected decreased accuracy with each additional source of linguistic complexity.

ConclusionsIncreased syntactic difficulty decreases use of morphology for all children, supporting the hypothesis that processing demands influence morphological accuracy. MLU-matched children, but not children with SLI, were more affected by changes in linguistic complexity. Further work on age-related changes in sentence production is necessary.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by an internal research grant from the University of Iowa. I would like to thank the children and families who participated in this project and the support of Augustana College (Allison Haskill) and the Scottish Rite Program (Elizabeth Merrifield) for assistance with subject recruitment. Marie Christiansen and Stacy Meyers assisted with stimuli development. Rebecca Eness, Katie Errek, Lyndi Hill, Talia Hindin, Kenneth Marciniak, Amanda Murphy, Laura Romey, Vicki Samelson, Li Sheng, and Rachel Wakefield assisted with data collection, transcription, and coding. Susan Wagner Cook provided advice on statistical analysis. This article benefited from careful reading and comments from Jean K. Gordon, Ling Yu Guo, Karla McGregor, and Vicki Samelson and from discussion within the Language Discussion Group at the University of Iowa. Portions of this article were presented at the 28th annual meeting of the Society for Research in Child Language Disorders held in Madison, Wisconsin, in 2007.
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