Auxiliary BE Production by African American English–Speaking Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment PurposeTo examine 3 forms (am,is,are) of auxiliary BE production by African American English (AAE)–speaking children with and without specific language impairment (SLI).MethodThirty AAE speakers participated: 10 six-year-olds with SLI, 10 age-matched controls, and 10 language-matched controls. BE production was examined through samples and a probe.ResultsAcross tasks, visual inspection suggested that ... Article
Article  |   October 01, 2010
Auxiliary BE Production by African American English–Speaking Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • April W. Garrity
    Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
  • Janna B. Oetting
    Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
  • Contact author: April W. Garrity, who is now at the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Armstrong Atlantic State University, 11935 Abercorn Street, Savannah, GA 31419. E-mail: april.garrity@armstrong.edu.
Article Information
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language
Article   |   October 01, 2010
Auxiliary BE Production by African American English–Speaking Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2010, Vol. 53, 1307-1320. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/09-0016)
History: Received January 29, 2009 , Revised August 5, 2009 , Accepted January 23, 2010
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2010, Vol. 53, 1307-1320. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/09-0016)
History: Received January 29, 2009; Revised August 5, 2009; Accepted January 23, 2010
Web of Science® Times Cited: 11

PurposeTo examine 3 forms (am,is,are) of auxiliary BE production by African American English (AAE)–speaking children with and without specific language impairment (SLI).

MethodThirty AAE speakers participated: 10 six-year-olds with SLI, 10 age-matched controls, and 10 language-matched controls. BE production was examined through samples and a probe.

ResultsAcross tasks, visual inspection suggested that the children with SLI overtly marked BE at lower rates than the controls, and all groups marked am at higher rates than is and are, with few dialect-inappropriate errors. Within the samples, the children also overtly marked is at higher rates when preceded by it/that/what than when it was preceded by a personal pronoun. A subset of these results was confirmed statistically. The children’s marking of BE also varied across tasks; for the age-matched controls, this variation was tied to their AAE dialect densities.

ConclusionsThese findings show across-dialect similarities and differences between children’s acquisition of AAE and mainstream American English. Similarities involve the rate of the children’s BE marking as a function of their clinical status and the nature of their dialect-inappropriate errors. Differences involve the children’s rates of BE marking as a function of the form, context, and task.

Acknowledgments
The research reported in this article represents a portion of the first author’s doctoral dissertation. This work was supported by departmental funding from the Louisiana State University (LSU) Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders as well as an academic enhancement award from the Life Course and Aging Center at LSU.
We extend our gratitude to the administrators, speech-language pathologists, teachers, and students of Ascension, East Baton Rouge, and St. Tammany Parishes. We also wish to thank the following past and present members of the LSU Language Development and Disorders Laboratory for their assistance: Sonja Pruitt-Lord, Lesli Cleveland, Lekeitha Hartfield Morris, Heidi Huckabee Michiels, Brandi Newkirk, Beth Wooden, and Christy Wynn Moland. The first author also wishes to thank Maya Reynolds Clark and Bradley R. Sturz for providing feedback and advisement on an earlier draft of this article.
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