Lexicality and Frequency in Specific Language Impairment: Accuracy and Error Data from Two Nonword Repetition Tests PurposeDeficits in phonological working memory and deficits in phonological processing have both been considered potential explanatory factors in specific language impairment (SLI). Manipulations of the lexicality and phonotactic frequency of nonwords enable contrasting predictions to be derived from these hypotheses.MethodEighteen typically developing (TD) children and 18 children with SLI completed ... Article
Article  |   December 01, 2010
Lexicality and Frequency in Specific Language Impairment: Accuracy and Error Data from Two Nonword Repetition Tests
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Gary Jones
    Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, United Kingdom
  • Marco Tamburelli
    Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, United Kingdom
  • Sarah E. Watson
    Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, United Kingdom
  • Fernand Gobet
    Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex, United Kingdom
  • Julian M. Pine
    University of Liverpool, United Kingdom
  • Contact author: Gary Jones, Division of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University, Chaucer Building, Nottingham NG1 5LT, United Kingdom. E-mail: gary.jones@ntu.ac.uk.
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language
Article   |   December 01, 2010
Lexicality and Frequency in Specific Language Impairment: Accuracy and Error Data from Two Nonword Repetition Tests
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2010, Vol. 53, 1642-1655. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/09-0222)
History: Received October 6, 2009 , Revised January 25, 2010 , Accepted March 10, 2010
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2010, Vol. 53, 1642-1655. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/09-0222)
History: Received October 6, 2009; Revised January 25, 2010; Accepted March 10, 2010
Web of Science® Times Cited: 13

PurposeDeficits in phonological working memory and deficits in phonological processing have both been considered potential explanatory factors in specific language impairment (SLI). Manipulations of the lexicality and phonotactic frequency of nonwords enable contrasting predictions to be derived from these hypotheses.

MethodEighteen typically developing (TD) children and 18 children with SLI completed an assessment battery that included tests of language ability, nonverbal intelligence, and two nonword repetition tests that varied in lexicality and frequency.

ResultsRepetition accuracy showed that children with SLI were unimpaired for short and simple high-lexicality nonwords, whereas clear impairments were shown for all low-lexicality nonwords. For low-lexicality nonwords, greater repetition accuracy was seen for nonwords constructed from high over low-frequency phoneme sequences. Children with SLI made the same proportion of errors that substituted a nonsense syllable for a lexical item as TD children, and this was stable across nonword length.

ConclusionsThe data show support for a phonological processing deficit in children with SLI, where long-term lexical and sublexical phonological knowledge mediate the interpretation of nonwords. However, the data also suggest that while phonological processing may provide a key explanation of SLI, a full account is likely to be multifaceted.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by Research Grant F/01 374/G from the Leverhulme Trust, awarded to the first author. We would like to thank the SLI team at Nottingham’s City Hospital and Joanne Egan at Derbyshire County Council for their help and their useful comments regarding the study presented, Gabrielle Le Geyt for recording the nonword stimuli, Hannah Witherstone for helping with interrater reliability for the children’s nonwords, and the schools and children that participated in the study presented.
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