The Effects of Production Demands on Grammatical Weaknesses in Specific Language Impairment: The Case of Clitic Pronouns in Italian PurposeExtended optional use of direct object clitic pronouns (e.g., la in Paula la vede [“Paula sees her”]) appears to be a clinical marker for specific language impairment (SLI) in Italian. In this study, we examined whether sentence production demands might influence the degree to which Italian-speaking children with SLI produced ... Article
Article  |   August 01, 2013
The Effects of Production Demands on Grammatical Weaknesses in Specific Language Impairment: The Case of Clitic Pronouns in Italian
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Laurence B. Leonard
    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • Marco Dispaldro
    Università di Padova, Padova, Italy
  • Correspondence to Laurence B. Leonard: xdxl@purdue.edu
  • Editor: Janna Oetting
    Editor: Janna Oetting×
  • Associate Editor: Sean Redmond
    Associate Editor: Sean Redmond×
Article Information
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language
Article   |   August 01, 2013
The Effects of Production Demands on Grammatical Weaknesses in Specific Language Impairment: The Case of Clitic Pronouns in Italian
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2013, Vol. 56, 1272-1286. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/12-0295)
History: Received September 11, 2012 , Revised December 3, 2012 , Accepted December 11, 2012
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2013, Vol. 56, 1272-1286. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/12-0295)
History: Received September 11, 2012; Revised December 3, 2012; Accepted December 11, 2012
Web of Science® Times Cited: 7

PurposeExtended optional use of direct object clitic pronouns (e.g., la in Paula la vede [“Paula sees her”]) appears to be a clinical marker for specific language impairment (SLI) in Italian. In this study, we examined whether sentence production demands might influence the degree to which Italian-speaking children with SLI produced clitics.

MethodPreschool-age children with SLI (n = 15) and 2 groups of younger typically developing children (n = 15 each) participated. Production demands were varied through use of a syntactic priming task.

ResultsThe children with SLI were more likely than the comparison children to omit the clitic in a control condition in which they had to describe a target picture without the benefit of a preceding sentence prime. The children with SLI were also more likely to describe target pictures using a default clitic or a clitic that had appeared in the preceding prime sentence but was inappropriate for the target.

ConclusionsThe findings suggest that children with SLI have difficulty generating a sentence containing a grammatical slot for a clitic when production demands are increased, and when they succeed in generating such a sentence, they often cannot at the same time retrieve the appropriate clitic form.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by a grant from the Università di Padova (Assegno di Ricerca Junior 2009) as well as from National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health Research Grant R01 DC00458. We greatly appreciate the cooperation of the Ulss 22 of Bussolengo (Lilia Bonadiman) as well as the preschool programs of Padova (Giuliana Truffa and Anna Bavaresco). We are grateful to the children who participated in the study and their parents who gave their consent. Thanks go to Francesca Scali for her help with data collection and Beatrice Benelli, Patricia Deevy, and Windi Krok for their helpful comments. We are indebted as well to Ana Castro for her guidance regarding Portuguese grammar.
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