The Role of Frequency in Learning Morphophonological Alternations: Implications for Children With Specific Language Impairment Purpose The aim of this article was to explore how the type of allomorph (e.g., past tense buzz[ d ] vs. nod[ əd ]) influences the ability to perceive and produce grammatical morphemes in children with typical development and with specific language impairment (SLI). Method The participants were ... Research Article
Research Article  |   May 24, 2017
The Role of Frequency in Learning Morphophonological Alternations: Implications for Children With Specific Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ekaterina Tomas
    Neurolinguistics Laboratory, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia
  • Katherine Demuth
    ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Department of Linguistics, Macquarie University, North Ryde, Australia
    Santa Fe Institute, New Mexico
  • Peter Petocz
    Department of Statistics, Macquarie University, North Ryde, Australia
  • Disclosure: This study was partially funded by Widex. The authors report no other conflicts of interest.
    Disclosure: This study was partially funded by Widex. The authors report no other conflicts of interest. ×
  • Correspondence to Ekaterina Tomas: ekaterina.tomas@gmail.com
  • Editor: Sean Redmond
    Editor: Sean Redmond×
  • Associate Editor: Filip Smolik
    Associate Editor: Filip Smolik×
Article Information
Development / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   May 24, 2017
The Role of Frequency in Learning Morphophonological Alternations: Implications for Children With Specific Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, May 2017, Vol. 60, 1316-1329. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-16-0138
History: Received April 7, 2016 , Revised September 13, 2016 , Accepted November 8, 2016
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, May 2017, Vol. 60, 1316-1329. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-16-0138
History: Received April 7, 2016; Revised September 13, 2016; Accepted November 8, 2016

Purpose The aim of this article was to explore how the type of allomorph (e.g., past tense buzz[ d ] vs. nod[ əd ]) influences the ability to perceive and produce grammatical morphemes in children with typical development and with specific language impairment (SLI).

Method The participants were monolingual Australian English–speaking children. The SLI group included 13 participants (mean age = 5;7 [years;months]); the control group included 19 children with typical development (mean age = 5;4). Both groups performed a grammaticality judgment and elicited production task with the same set of nonce verbs in third-person singular and past tense forms.

Results Five-year-old children are still learning to generalize morphophonological patterns to novel verbs, and syllabic /əz/ and /əd/ allomorphs are significantly more challenging to produce, particularly for the SLI group. The greater phonetic content of these syllabic forms did not enhance perception.

Conclusions Acquisition of morphophonological patterns involving low-frequency allomorphs is still underway in 5-year-old children with typical development, and it is even more protracted in SLI populations, despite these patterns being highly predictable. Children with SLI will therefore benefit from targeted intervention with low-frequency allomorphs.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by funding from Macquarie University, the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (Grant CE110001021, awarded to Crain et al.), and ARC Grant FL130100014, awarded to Katherine Demuth. We especially thank the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders for its additional financial support, and North East Metropolitan Language Development Centre and its staff for their help in organizing the testing on site in Perth. We are very grateful to Jeanette Morley, Sandra Gerbaz, Robert Wells, Kelly Miles, Gretel Macdonald, and Amy German for their participation in the project, to Elaine Schmidt for her assistance and comments on the manuscript, and to the staff and students of the Child Language Laboratory at Macquarie University for their helpful feedback.
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