The Production of Finite and Nonfinite Complement Clauses by Children With Specific Language Impairment and Their Typically Developing Peers The purpose of this study was to explore whether 13 children with specific language impairment (SLI; ages 5;1–8;0 [years;months]) were as proficient as typically developing age- and vocabulary-matched children in the production of finite and nonfinite complement clauses. Preschool children with SLI have marked difficulties with verb-related morphology. However, very ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2006
The Production of Finite and Nonfinite Complement Clauses by Children With Specific Language Impairment and Their Typically Developing Peers
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Amanda J. Owen
    University of Iowa, Iowa City
  • Laurence B. Leonard
    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • Contact author: Amanda J. Owen, 121A WJSHC, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52245. Email: amanda-owen@uiowa.edu
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2006
The Production of Finite and Nonfinite Complement Clauses by Children With Specific Language Impairment and Their Typically Developing Peers
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2006, Vol. 49, 548-571. doi:10.1044/10902-4388(2006/040)
History: Received March 15, 2005 , Revised September 9, 2005 , Accepted October 19, 2005
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2006, Vol. 49, 548-571. doi:10.1044/10902-4388(2006/040)
History: Received March 15, 2005; Revised September 9, 2005; Accepted October 19, 2005
Web of Science® Times Cited: 29

The purpose of this study was to explore whether 13 children with specific language impairment (SLI; ages 5;1–8;0 [years;months]) were as proficient as typically developing age- and vocabulary-matched children in the production of finite and nonfinite complement clauses. Preschool children with SLI have marked difficulties with verb-related morphology. However, very little is known about these children’s language abilities beyond the preschool years. In Experiment 1, simple finite and nonfinite complement clauses (e.g., The count decided that Ernie should eat the cookies; Cookie Monster decided to eat the cookies) were elicited from the children through puppet show enactments. In Experiment 2, finite and nonfinite complement clauses that required an additional argument (e.g., Ernie told Elmo that Oscar picked up the box; Ernie told Elmo to pick up the box) were elicited from the children. All 3 groups of children were more accurate in their use of nonfinite complement clauses than finite complement clauses, but the children with SLI were less proficient than both comparison groups. The SLI group was more likely than the typically developing groups to omit finiteness markers, the nonfinite particle to, arguments in finite complement clauses, and the optional complementizer that. Utterance-length restrictions were ruled out as a factor in the observed differences. The authors conclude that current theories of SLI need to be extended or altered to account for these results.

Acknowledgments
We would like to thank the children and their families for their participation in this research. In addition, we would like to thank Patricia Deevy for her assistance in all aspects of the project; Abigail Borman, Diana Elam, Lori Heisler-Vink, Laurie Krantz, Lydia Maxwell, Kelsey Pithoud, Elgustus Polite, and Jaime Rice for their assistance in participant recruitment, data collection, and data analysis; and Lisa Goffman, Robert V. Kail, David Kemmerer, and Elena Benedicto for comments and guidance during the development of the project.
This work was supported by a predoctoral scholarship from the Bamford-Lahey Children’s Foundation and Grant R01 DC 00458 from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders at the National Institutes of Health.
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