Effects of Specific Language Impairment on a Contrastive Dialect Structure: The Case of Infinitival TO Across Various Nonmainstream Dialects of English Purpose Using data from children who spoke various nonmainstream dialects of English and who were classified as either children with specific language impairment (SLI) or typically developing (TD) children, we examined children's marking of infinitival TO by their dialect and clinical status. Method The data came from 180 ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 08, 2018
Effects of Specific Language Impairment on a Contrastive Dialect Structure: The Case of Infinitival TO Across Various Nonmainstream Dialects of English
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Andrew M. Rivière
    Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
  • Janna B. Oetting
    Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
  • Joseph Roy
    University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
  • 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 Andrew M. Rivière, who is now at Sentara Enterprises, Woodbridge, VA: andrew.riviere@gmail.com
  • Editor-in-Chief: Sean Redmond
    Editor-in-Chief: Sean Redmond×
  • Editor: Geralyn Timler
    Editor: Geralyn Timler×
Article Information
Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 08, 2018
Effects of Specific Language Impairment on a Contrastive Dialect Structure: The Case of Infinitival TO Across Various Nonmainstream Dialects of English
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2018, Vol. 61, 1989-2001. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-L-17-0209
History: Received May 31, 2017 , Revised November 1, 2017 , Accepted March 18, 2018
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2018, Vol. 61, 1989-2001. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-L-17-0209
History: Received May 31, 2017; Revised November 1, 2017; Accepted March 18, 2018

Purpose Using data from children who spoke various nonmainstream dialects of English and who were classified as either children with specific language impairment (SLI) or typically developing (TD) children, we examined children's marking of infinitival TO by their dialect and clinical status.

Method The data came from 180 kindergartners (91 speakers of African American English, 60 speakers of Southern White English, 29 speakers of +Cajun); 53 were children with SLI, and 127 were TD children. Data included 4,537 infinitival TO contexts extracted from language samples; each was coded as zero or overtly marked and by preceding verb context (i.e., verbs of motion vs. other).

Results Across dialects, overall rates of zero marking differed by the children's clinical status (SLI > TD), and other verb contexts accounted for this result. Across the TD and SLI groups, dialect variation was evident for verbs of motion contexts, and the effect was stronger for the TD than for the SLI groups, particularly if the TD children's dialects were classified as +Cajun.

Conclusion Children's marking of infinitival TO can be affected by both their dialect and clinical status. Results support language assessments that include context-specific rate-based measures of infinitival TO and other contrastive structures when they prove useful for understanding the linguistic profile of SLI within a dialect.

Acknowledgments
This study represents a portion of the first author's doctoral dissertation, with data collection supported by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant RO1DC009811. We extend appreciation to Jessica Berry, Kyomi Gregory, Ryan James, Christy Moland, Christy Seidel, Tina Villa, and a number of other students who helped collect, transcribe, and code the language samples, and to the teachers, families, and children who participated in the study. Thank you to the Rivière’s for your support throughout this journey. Last but not least, we would like to extend a special thanks to Aaron Emmitte for questioning why Cajuns use this structure.
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