Effects of Verb Familiarity on Finiteness Marking in Children With Specific Language Impairment Purpose Children with specific language impairment (SLI) have known deficits in the verb lexicon and finiteness marking. This study investigated a potential relationship between these 2 variables in children with SLI and 2 control groups considering predictions from 2 different theoretical perspectives, morphosyntactic versus morphophonological. Method Children with ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2015
Effects of Verb Familiarity on Finiteness Marking in Children With Specific Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Alyson D. Abel
    University of Texas at Dallas
  • Mabel L. Rice
    University of Kansas, Lawrence
  • Daniel E. Bontempo
    University of Kansas, Lawrence
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Alyson D. Abel, who is now at the School of Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences, San Diego State University: alyson.abel@mail.sdsu.edu
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Marleen Westerveld
    Associate Editor: Marleen Westerveld×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2015
Effects of Verb Familiarity on Finiteness Marking in Children With Specific Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2015, Vol. 58, 360-372. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-14-0003
History: Received January 6, 2014 , Revised May 19, 2014 , Accepted November 13, 2014
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2015, Vol. 58, 360-372. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-14-0003
History: Received January 6, 2014; Revised May 19, 2014; Accepted November 13, 2014

Purpose Children with specific language impairment (SLI) have known deficits in the verb lexicon and finiteness marking. This study investigated a potential relationship between these 2 variables in children with SLI and 2 control groups considering predictions from 2 different theoretical perspectives, morphosyntactic versus morphophonological.

Method Children with SLI, age-equivalent, and language-equivalent (LE) control children (n = 59) completed an experimental sentence imitation task that generated estimates of children's finiteness accuracy under 2 levels of verb familiarity—familiar real verbs versus unfamiliar real verbs—in clausal sites marked for finiteness. Imitations were coded and analyzed for overall accuracy as well as finiteness marking and verb root imitation accuracy.

Results Statistical comparisons revealed that children with SLI did not differ from LE children and were less accurate than age-equivalent children on all dependent variables: overall imitation, finiteness marking imitation, and verb root imitation accuracy. A significant Group × Condition interaction for finiteness marking revealed lower levels of accuracy on unfamiliar verbs for the SLI and LE groups only.

Conclusions Findings indicate a relationship between verb familiarity and finiteness marking in children with SLI and younger controls and help clarify the roles of morphosyntax, verb lexicon, and morphophonology.

Acknowledgments
This research was funded by National Institutes of Health Grants T32DC00052, R01DC001803, and P30DC005803 awarded to Mabel L. Rice as well as by University of Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center Grant P30HD002528, awarded to John Colombo. The study is based on a dissertation completed by the first author in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Ph.D. degree at the University of Kansas. Portions of the study were reported at the Symposium on Research on Child Language Disorders, Madison, Wisconsin, June 2013, and the annual convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Chicago, 2013. We would like to thank the children and families who contributed their time and effort to this research. Thanks also to past and present members of the Language Acquisition Studies Lab for data collection, transcription, and scoring assistance. Special appreciation goes to Denise Perpich for her assistance in data processing and summaries.
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