Verb Use in Specific Language Impairment The aim of the present study was to use longitudinal data to provide a detailed profile of early word combinations by children with SLI. Three children with SLI were videotaped during mother-child interactions in the home over a 2-year period. The data obtained were compared to MLU-matched samples of normal ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 1997
Verb Use in Specific Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Gina Conti-Ramsden, PhD
    Centre for Educational Needs School of Education University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, England
  • Melanie Jones
    Centre for Educational Needs School of Education University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, England
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 1997
Verb Use in Specific Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1997, Vol. 40, 1298-1313. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4006.1298
History: Received July 16, 1996 , Accepted April 24, 1997
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1997, Vol. 40, 1298-1313. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4006.1298
History: Received July 16, 1996; Accepted April 24, 1997

The aim of the present study was to use longitudinal data to provide a detailed profile of early word combinations by children with SLI. Three children with SLI were videotaped during mother-child interactions in the home over a 2-year period. The data obtained were compared to MLU-matched samples of normal language-learning children from Wells’ (1981) longitudinal database, which provided a control for the linguistic measures used in this study. A range of analyses were carried out on controlled data samples in order to determine how the children with SLI’s early utterances compared with those of MLU-matched normal language peers. The measures were specifically designed to assess the children’s use of verbs and verb morphology because recent research has suggested that verbs may play a central role in the acquisition process, and children with SLI may have particular problems with verbs. We found that children with SLI used verbs less frequently, nouns more frequently, and were more input-dependent than their MLU-matched peers. The children with SLI used verb bare stems incorrectly more often than their MLU-matched counterparts. However, further analyses showed that this high frequency of incorrect bare stems may be at least partly due to the fact that children with SLI have particular difficulties using auxiliaries. Furthermore, the proportion of verb use that consisted of General All Purpose (GAP) verbs for children with SLI was similar to that of the MLU-matched children. The above findings were compared with those from other relevant studies of lexical diversity in children with SLI, and the potential implications of these data for theories of SLI language development were discussed, particularly with reference to Marchman and Bates’ (1994) "critical mass" hypothesis.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by an Economic and Social Science Research Grant (R000221489) to the first author. The authors would like to thank Elizabeth Bates, Dorothy Bishop, Julia Evans, and Mike Tomasello for their insightful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.
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