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The syntactic abilities of children with SLI: From Tense to Movement. 37-975-01 Challenges to Language Acquisition: Bilingualism and Language Impairment Dr. Sharon Armon-Lotem Bar Ilan University. Topics. Passive Binding WH-Questions Relative clauses.

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the syntactic abilities of children with sli from tense to movement

The syntactic abilities of children with SLI: From Tense to Movement

37-975-01

Challenges to Language Acquisition: Bilingualism and Language Impairment

Dr. Sharon Armon-Lotem

Bar Ilan University

topics
Topics
  • Passive
  • Binding
  • WH-Questions
  • Relative clauses
passive
Passive

Maryi was kissed ti by John

  • Passive is A-movement rather than A’-movement
  • The subject is the patient (no necessary agent)
  • The transitive verb has unique morphology (with or without an auxiliary verb) which makes it intransitive
  • The passive derives n-place predicate from n+1-place predicate
  • Not all languages permit an agent-phrase (by phrase), and the same agent-phase can occur with non-passive verbs
  • Verbal vs. adjectival passive
verbal vs adjectival
Verbal vs. adjectival

The girl is covered (by the boy)

The covered girl (*by the boy)

Ha-yalda mexusa (al yedey ha-yeled)

the-girl cover-pass (on hands the-boy)

‘The girl is covered (by the boy)’

issues in acquisition
Issues in acquisition
  • Reversible vs. non-reversible
  • Actional vs. non-actional
  • Adjectival vs. verbal
  • Do children understand the by-phrase?
  • Comprehension vs. production
how do children with sli interpret the passive
How do children with SLI interpret the passive?
  • Children with SLI consistently interpret reversible passive using SVO strategy (Bishop 1982)
  • Children with SLI show a mixture of correct interpretation and a reversal interpretation (Van der Lely & Harris 1990)
  • Children with SLI perform better on short passive than on long Passive (Van der Lely 1994)
  • Children with SLI adopt an adjectival interpretation (Van der Lely 1996)
slide8
Van der Lely, H. 1996. Specifically language impaired and normally developing children: Verbal passive vs. adjectival passive interpretation.Lingua, 98, 243–272.
method picture selection task
Method – Picture selection task

6 verbs: wash, mend, paint, eat, cut, hit

results p 258
Results (p.258)

Reversal

Adjectival

Passive

slide15
D. V. M. Bishop, P. Bright, C. James, S. J. Bishop, and H. K. J. Van der lely. 2000. Grammatical SLI: A distinct subtype of developmental language impairment? Applied Psycholinguistics 21, 159–181
subjects1
Subjects
  • Sample A - LI - 46 children out of 37 same-sex twin pairs selected for the presence of language impairment in one or both twins
  • Sample B - LN- 32 children out of an unselected sample of 104 twin pairs from the general population
  • All children were 7 - 13.
taps van der lely 1996
TAPS (Van der Lely 1996)
  • (a) reversible active SVO (e.g., “the man eats the fish”);
  • (b) reversible full passive (e.g., “the man is eaten by the fish”);
  • (c) short progressive passive (e.g., “the fish is being eaten”); and
  • (d) short passive with potentially adjectival passive interpretation (e.g., “the fish is eaten”).

12 items x 4 sentence types = 48 sentences

results
Results
  • There was a significant difference between groups: mean correct (out of 48) for group LI = 40.4 (SD = 3.96) and for group LN = 45.3 (SD = 2.29), F(1, 76) = 39.8, p < .001.
  • Age was not significantly correlated with TAPS performance, r(76) = −.047
  • Nonverbal ability was significantly correlated with TAPS : r(76) = .420 for Raven’s Matrices and .445 for PIQ (both p < .001
sli children s delayed acquisition of passive
SLI Children's Delayed Acquisition of Passive

Mabel L. Rice, Kenneth Wexler, & Jennifer Francois

Paper Presented at the BU Conference on Language Development

Boston, MA, November 1-4, 2001

subjects2
Subjects
  • Study 1
    • 19 10-year-old children
    • 17 age-equivalent controls
    • 16 8-year-old lexically-equivalent controls (PPVT raw scores)
  • Study 2
    • 17 5-year-old SLI children
    • 17 age-equivalent controls
    • 16 3-year-old lexically-equivalent controls (PPVT raw scores)
method
Method

Stromswold’s 32-item task for reversible full passives, with toy animals.

Examiner: “The goal kicked the horse.”

Child: act out action with toy animals

[Verbal item set: Kiss, slap, touch, hug, kick, lick, tickle, push]

results study 1
Results - Study 1

By 10 years of age, children in the SLI group comprehended reversible full verbal passives, showing knowledge of movement (A-chains)

results study 2
Results - Study 2

At 5 years of age, children in the SLI group were below age peers in their comprehension of reversible full verbal passives, and similar to their younger lexically-equivalent peers

the acquisition of passive constructions in russian children with sli
The Acquisition of Passive Constructions in Russian Children with SLI

Maria Babyonyshev, Lesley Hart, & Elena Grigorenko. 2005. Paper presented at Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics - The Princeton Meeting

subjects3
Subjects
  • A medium-sized village (population of approximately 900) in Arkhangelsk region where the incidence of language disorders is far greater than in the general population.
  • 14 monolingual Russian children aged between 6;3 and 9;10 (mean age 7; 10), non-verbal IQ above 70: seven TD children (mean age 8;3 ) and seven children with SLI (mean age 7;5).
  • Children were grouped based on: clinical impressions, and either MLU, or syntactic complexity (the proportion of syntactically complex structures to all structures produced)
method1
Method
  • A picture selection task with reversible passive sentences in the perfective form.
  • 20 passive sentences with pairs of pictures: 10 based on actional verbs (a), 5 based on psychological predicates (b), and 5 based on perception verbs (c).

a. Petux byl oščipan gusem.

‘A rooster was plucked by a goose.’

b. Lisa byla utešena korovoj.

‘A fox was consoled by a cow.’

c. Žiraf byl obnyuxan obez’janoj.

‘A giraffe was smelled by a monkey.’

results percentage of success
Results - percentage of success

* Younger TD do not distinguish the three types of passives, performing at chance level on all of them (see Babyonyshev & Brun 2003).

is this universal
Is this universal?

Leonard, L. B., Wong, A. M. Y, Deevy, P., Stokes, S. F., and P. Fletcher .2006. The production of passives by children with specific language impairment: Acquiring English or Cantonese. Applied Psycholinguistics 27, 267–299

  • English – movement, one-to-many often reduced morpheme, adjectival/verbal confusion,
  • Cantonese – movement, no morphology, bei with a contrastive tone which is unique to passive
slide31

English

Cantonese

slide33
“The findings necessitate a modification of the assumptions of the sparse morphology hypothesis, and provide only partial support for the surface account. The English get-passives and the Cantonese passives employed in this study differ in their structure but both require some type of movement. However,we found no evidence that movement was at the heart of the children’s difficulties. If optional movement is a correct characterization, then we must assume that our tasks increased the likelihood that an available but optional movement operation was selected by the children with SLI."
slide35
Johni shaved himselfi
  • John likes himself
  • John likes him
  • He likes John
  • *Himself likes John
  • John thinks that Bill likes him
  • He thinks that Bill likes John
  • John thinks that Bill likes himself
binding conditions
Binding conditions

A: anaphors must be bound in their local domain

B: pronouns must be free in their local domain

C: R-expressions are always free

  • The coindexation resembles A-movement, but no theta role transmission is involved
  • The binding local domain varies across languages
issues in acquisition1
Issues in acquisition
  • Which words are pronouns and which are reflexives.
  • What the local domain is.
  • Principle A vs. principle B.
  • Comprehension vs. production
chien wexler 1990 pictures selection 150 children ages 2 6 6 6
Chien & Wexler (1990)– Pictures selection, 150 children, ages 2;6-6;6

This is Goldilocks; this is Mama bear.

Is Mama bear touching herself/her?

  • Children older than 5 obey principle A. Younger children allow non-local antecedent: Goldilocks = herself
  • Children seem to violate principle B even after 6;6
slide40
But
  • Children obey principle B at the same age that they obey principle A, but violate a pragmatic principle which governs the choice of reference (Reinhart 1983, 1986).
  • Coreference is possible without coindexing on a pragmatic basis (contrastive stress). Children who are not sensitive to contrastive stress would seem to violate principle B ( McDaniel 1992)
  • Grice’s principles of cooperation (maxim of manner) – use the most precise way to say what you want to say - use him only when you do not mean himself. This is hard for children (Grodzinsky & Reinhart 1993)
binding in sli
Binding in SLI

Franks, S. L., Connell, P. J. 1996. Knowledge of Binding in Normal and SLI Children. Journal of Child Language, 23, 431-64

  • Reflexives
  • NL - pass through a long-distance binding stage
  • LI - behave like very young NL requiring the nearest available noun phrase to be the antecedent.
slide42
Bishop et al. 2000. Grammatical SLI: A distinct subtype of developmental language impairment? Applied Psycholinguistics 21, 159–181

Advanced Syntactic Test of Pronominal Reference (Figure 2, A)

results li 18 72 sd 2 90 ln 21 41 sd 2 53 t 5 61 p 001
ResultsLI 18.72 (SD=2.90)LN 21.41 (SD=2.53)(t = 5.61, p < .001).
  • “Baloo Bear says Mowgli is tickling him”
  • “Baloo Bear says Mowgli is tickling himself” (X)
  • “Mowgli says Baloo Bear is tickling him” (S)
questions in english
Questions in English
  • Yes/no questions are marked only by subject-auxiliary inversion, i.e., an overt syntactic change in word order in which the auxiliary is raised into C. Do-support operates when there is no auxiliary is the declarative.
  • [Spec, CP] is the target for overt Wh-movement both in matrix and embedded clauses, with subject-auxiliary inversion in matrix clauses, but not in embedded clause. Do-support operates when there is no auxiliary is the declarative.

a. What did the child see?

b. The teacher wondered what the child saw.

td acquisition
TD Acquisition

Phase I

  • Children use neither modals nor auxiliaries
  • Yes/no questions are marked only with rising intonation
  • Wh-word appears sentence initially in wh-questions without inversion.
  • A limited set, ‘what,’ ‘where’ and ‘why,’ ( ‘where NP go?,’‘what NPdoing?’)
  • Children do not seem to understand wh-questions and their responses are often inappropriate (Radford 1990)
slide48
Phase II
  • Auxiliary verbs are used in subject auxiliary inversion for yes/no questions
  • Auxiliary verbs are not used for wh-questions.
  • Wh-questions involve productive use of an extended set of wh-words, but no inversion.

Phase III

  • Children make adult use of question formation, which involves subject-auxiliary inversion.
what determines the order in which questions are acquired
What determines the order in which questions are acquired?
  • Wh in-situ hypothesis (WISH) – universally wh in-situ with no overt movement is allowed by UG. Subject questions can be interpreted as in-situ, while objects require movement.
  • Vacuous movement hypothesis (VMH) – the wh-parameter can be either + or – movement, but we should not have both options within one language. In English all questions involve movement, only it is invisible for subjects
  • Proper government hypothesis (PGH) - traces (of movement) must be properly governed. Object traces are theta-governed by the verb, while subject (and adjunct) traces must be antecedent governed (cf. complements are obligatory, everything else is optional).
predictions
Predictions:
  • WISH – subject questions first
  • VMH – subject and object questions at the same time
  • PGH – object questions first
stromswold k 1995 the acquisition of subject and object wh questions
Stromswold, K. 1995. The acquisition of subject and object wh-questions.
  • Longitudinal study of 12 children in CHILDES.
  • Who andwhat are acquired almost simultaneously, around age 2;5. Object questions are acquired at the same age or earlier than subject questions.
  • All children asked at least one long distance object question (mean age 2;10), but only one child asked a long distance subject question (at 5;0).
by the age of 2 6
By the age of 2;6
  • TD children use wh-movement properly
  • TD children do not show problem with wh-non-local dependency
  • TD children have no problem with theta-government
elicited production
Elicited Production

The nurse feeds someone. Burney knows who. Ask Burney.

comprehension picture selection task
Comprehension: Picture selection task

Subject vs. Object

Who is pushimng the girl?

Who is the girl pushing?

MichalCohen

wh movement in children with grammatical sli a test of the rddr hypothesis
Wh-movement in children with grammatical SLI: A test of theRDDR hypothesis

Van der Lely HKJ and Battell J (2003), Language79: 153-181

  • SLI subjects fail to master the syntax of the two types of movement operation involved in wh-questions (preposing a wh-expression and preposing an auxiliary).
  • This is the result of difficulties they have in processing non-local dependencies.
subjects4
Subjects
  • 15 SLI subjects aged from 11;3 to 18;2
  • 12 TD (typically developing) grammar-matched children aged from 5;3 to 7;4
  • 12 TD (typically developing) vocabulary-matched children aged from 7;4 to 9;1
method2
Method

Wh-questions containing who, what and which by getting the subjects to play a version of the board game Cluedo:

wh errors
Wh-errors
  • Who Miss Scarlett saw somebody? (Response to ‘Miss Scarlet saw someone in the lounge. Ask me who’ – the target response being Who did Miss Scarlet see in the lounge?)
  • Which Reverend Green open a door? (Response to ‘Reverend Green opened a door. Ask me which one’ – the target response being Which door did Rev. Green open?).
  • What did Colonel Mustard had something in his pocket? (Response to ‘Something was in Colonel Mustard’s pocket. Ask me what’ – the target response being What was in Colonel Mustard’s pocket?).
summary of findings
Summary of findings
  • SLI subjects have far more problems with the syntax ofwh-questions than language-matched TD controls.
  • The pattern of errors made by the SLI subjects differs from the pattern of errors made by the TD subjects:
    • Most SLI subjects have problems with both auxiliaries and wh-expressions
    • Most TD subjects have problems with neither, or only with auxiliary inversion.
can it account for auxiliary inversion errors
Can it account for auxiliary inversion errors?
  • What cat Mrs White stroked?
  • What did they drank?
  • Who Mrs Brown see?
wh errors in leonard corpus
Wh-Errors in Leonard Corpus

1 Which one I can do? (C ‘Which one can I do?)

2. What Kent’s gonna play with? (C ‘What’s Kent gonna play with?)

3. How you knowed? (E ‘How did you know?’)

4. What he did? (F ‘What did he do?’)

5. What you doing? (E ‘What are you doing?’)

6. What this for? (G ‘What is this for?’)

7. How much we got to do? (J ‘How much have we got to do?’)

8. How you get this out? (A ‘How d’you get this out?’)

9. What this do? (A ‘What’s this do?/What does this do’)

10. How open it up? (B ‘How d’you open it up?’)

11. What say? (B ‘What d’you say?’)

12. Where go on? (B ‘Where’s it go on/Where does it go on?’)

13. How much long gonna be? (A ‘How much longer’s it gonna be?’)

14. These do? (C ‘What do these do?’)

15. What is this is? (H ‘What is this?’)

the uninterpretable feature deficit model tsimpli and stavrakaki 1991
The Uninterpretable Feature Deficit Model (Tsimpli and Stavrakaki 1991)
  • SLI children have problems with movement operations, because these are driven by uninterpretable features.
  • Chomsky (2006) argues that wh-movement is driven by an interpretableedge featureon C which (in an interrogative clause) attracts an interrogative wh-expression to move to the edge of CP
  • Pesetsky and Torrego (2001) argue that auxiliary inversion is driven by an uninterpretable tense feature on C which attracts a tensed auxiliary to move from T into C.
  • Can UFDM account for why the SLI children in the Leonard corpus show perfect performance on wh-movement but perform much more poorly on auxiliary inversion.
controlled naturalistic sample michal cohen 2008
Controlled naturalistic sample (Michal Cohen 2008)
  • A twenty centimeter square box is presented which contains different objects:
  • The investigator tells the child that there is a surprise in the box. If the child wants to open the box, she has to find out what is in the box by asking questions.
  • Once a relevant question regarding the content of the box is asked, she received one object from the box.
other topics from singleton to exhaustive the acquisition of wh

Other topics: From Singleton to Exhaustive: the Acquisition of Wh-

Roeper, T., Schulz, P., Pearson, B. Z. & Reckling, I. (2006).   From singleton to exhaustive: The acquisition of wh-. Proceedings of SULA 2005 Conference (Semantics of Understudied Languages), Buffalo NY.

who is eating what
Who is eating what?

Double wh-question - Paired answer

who is wearing a hat
Who is wearing a hat?

Exhaustive answer, singleton answer, plural answer

the variable feature
The [+variable] Feature
  • Necessary in order to recognize exhaustivity
  • Specificity: relating to pre-established elements in the discourse
    • +Specific = - variable = singleton,
    • -Specific = +variable = exhaustive/paired.
  • Child’s initial default assumption: Questions are specific in nature
results1
Results
  • All children pass through a singleton stage around age 4-5.
  • Singleton readings in four-year-olds:
    • English 79%, German 52%
  • Exhaustive responses
    • Age 5: German 80%, English 27%
    • Age 6: German 85%, English 75%
    • Age 7: German 84%, English 74%
  • Plural responses: 6%
types of complex clauses
Types of complex clauses
  • Complement clauses – I want to drink, I know that she is late
  • Coordinate clauses – I like juice and she likes water
  • Adverbial clauses – I went to sleep when we got home
  • Relative clauses – The man who Mary saw was funny
relative clauses
Relative clauses

The girli that John kissed ti is nice

  • Relative clauses involve an A'-movement which yields coindexation of an NP in the main clause with a gap in the embedded clause, through an operator.
  • The operator carries the theta-role of its trace/gap
  • subject vs. object
slide73
Some languages have resumptive pronouns in RCs

ha-yalda she dani nishek ota nexmada

the-girl that Dani kissed her nice

'The girl that Dani kissed is nice'

issues in acquisition2
Issues in acquisition
  • Production vs. comprehension
  • Resumptive NPs
  • Subject vs. object
types of relative clauses
Types of relative clauses
  • Subject RC
    • The man who _ reads the book is my friend
    • I saw the man who _ read my book
    • האיש ש_קרא את הספר הוא ידידי
    • פגשתי את האיש ש_קרא את הספר
  • Object RC
    • The man who David saw _ is my friend
    • I met the man who David saw _
    • האיש שדויד ראה _ הוא ידידי
    • פגשתי את האיש שדויד ראה _
resumptive pronouns
Resumptive pronouns
  • האיש ש(*הוא) קרא את הספר הוא ידידי
  • האיש שפגשתי (אותו) הוא ידידי
  • האיש שנתתי לו מתנה הוא ידידי
  • The man who I gave a present to (*him) is my friend
  • האיש שישבתי לידו הוא ידידי
  • The man who I sat next to (*him) is my friend
pied piping
Pied piping
  • האיש שלו נתתי _ מתנה הוא ידידי
  • The man to whom I gave a present _ is my friend
  • האיש שלידו ישבתי _ הוא ידידי
  • The man next to whom I sat _ is my friend
the head external analysis chomsky 1977 jackendoff 1977 partee 1975
The head external analysis (Chomsky 1977, Jackendoff 1977, Partee 1975)
  • The man [CP whoi [C 0] [IP Mary loves ti]] is my friend
  • The man [CP Opi [C that] [IP Mary loves ti]] is my friend
  • The man [CP Opi [C 0] [IP Mary loves ti]] is my friend
  • The head noun is base-generated outside CP
  • The operator undergoes A'-movement to [Spec CP]
  • The relative clause is right adjoined to the head noun
  • The head noun and CP are combined via predication
  • Resumptive pronouns are either base generated (a non-movement analysis) or traces spell out (a movement analysis).
comprehension of relative clauses by monolingual td children sheldon 1974
Comprehension of relative clauses by monolingual TD children (Sheldon 1974)
  • Act-out task
    • [The dog that __ jumps over the pig] bumps into the lion [SS]
    • The dog stands on [the horse that the giraffe jumps over __] [OO]
    • [The lion that the horse bumps into __ ] jumps over the giraffe [SO]
    • The pig bumps into [the horse that __ jumps over the giraffe] [OS]
findings1
Findings
  • SS & OO are easier than SO & OS
  • Error in OS: The pig bumps into the horse and __ jumps over the giraffe (49%)
  • Why?
slide81
Nonadult competence (Tavakolian 1981)
    • Linear rather than hierarchical reading
    • Problems: Continuity. Negative Evidence (How do children unlearn the structure? )
  • Adult competence + processing complexity (Goodluck & Tavakolian 1982)
    • The errors are the outcome of the complexity of the relative clause
    • 6. d’. The pig bumps into [the horse that __ hops up and down] [OS]
    • Correct in 76%
  • Adult competence + pragmatic factors (Hamburger & Crain 1982)
    • Felicity conditions - What is said should be appropriate for the goals of the conversation (Grice 1989)
    • Relative clauses should be used only when there is a choice between two identical objects.
    • A change in the original experiment: two horses  95% at age 5, 69% at age 3
comprehension
Comprehension

Show me the boy who is pushing the girl.

Show me the boy who the girl is pushing?

MichalCohen

production of relative clauses by td children
Production of relative clauses by TD children
  • Children produce preconjunctional relative clauses even before the age of 2:

a. *ze regel koevet lax

this foot-fm hurts-fm you

'This is the foot that hurts you' [Lior 1;10;08]

b. *ze shaon ose tuktuk

this clock does ticktock

'This is a clock that goes ticktock' [Leor 2;1]

  • The complementizer appears around 2-2;6

aviron she la-shamayim [Lior 2;01;27]

airplane that to-the-sky

'an airplane that flies to the sky'

resumptive pronouns and resumptive nps
Resumptive pronouns and resumptive NPs
  • Children initially use resumptive pronouns in French, English an other languages
  • Children use resumptive NPs
    • The zebra who the man sat next to the zebra.
  • The non-movement approach (cf. Labelle 1988, 1990, 1996, Goodluck & Stojanoviç 1996)
  • The movement approach (cf. Law 1992, Pérez-Leroux 1995, Guasti & Shlonsky 1995, McDaniel, Bernstein & McKee 1997, Varlokosta 1997a).
slide86
Resumptives and Wh-Movement in the Acquisition of Relative Clauses in Modern Greek and Hebrew Varlokosta & Armon-Lotem (1998)

24 monolingual Hebrew-speaking children from 2;8 to 5;5

comprehension and production of relative clauses by children with sli
Comprehension and Production of relative clauses by children with SLI
  • Stavrakaki, S. 2001. Comprehension of reversible relative clauses in specifically language impaired and normally developing Greek children. Brain and Language, 77, 419-31.
  • Novogrodsky, R., & Friedmann, N. 2006. The production of relative clauses in SLI: A window to the nature of the impairment.Advances in Speech-Language pathology, 8(4).
stavrakaki 2001 hypotheses
Stavrakaki (2001): Hypotheses
  • The parser shows a locally preference (Frazier & Fodor, 1978; Gibson, 1998). Thus, long distance associations are expected to be more difficult than local ones.
  • When there is an option of a gap or a lexical NP, the parser will prefer a gap (Crain, 1999). Thus, if there is a NP instead of a gap, some processing difficulty should arise.
  • Sentence parsing strategies are sensitive to language specific properties. Theta-roles in Greek are indicated through case or agreement markers (morphological suffixes) and not through word order, as in English. Default associations between nominative case and agent theta-role, and accusative case and the patient theta-role may be made.
  • The more the preferences of the parser are violated the more difficult the processing of the structures will be.
the greek relative clauses
The Greek relative clauses
  • Relatives in modern Greek (MG) are introduced either with the relative pronoun "who" (o opios, I opia, to opio), or with the complementizer "that" (pu). In this research only pu relatives were tested.

The properties of relative clauses in MG:

  • In object gap relatives with an object head and in object gap relatives with a subject head the subject of the relative clause obligatorily occupies the postverbal position.
  • MG allows resumptive strategies, particularly the presence of a clitic, in relative clauses, which is coindexed with the head of the relative.

In this study, relatives with subject gap as well as with object gap were presented. Seven types of relatives were tested, including relatives with resumptive clitics that marked for the same case as the head of the relative.

methods
Methods
  • 8 children with SLI (age: 5.4-9.4. mean age: 7.38), and two control groups of normally developed children: age matched and language matched
  • 7 sentence types, 4 tokens of each sentence type (28 sentences), , all semantically reversible.
  • An acting out task
discussion
Discussion
  • The presence of the clitic reduces only SLI children's performance.
  • Case marking increases only performance of LM controls.
  • For the AM controls, neither a clitic effect nor a case marking effect was found.

>>> SLI children's deficit cannot be interpreted in terms of a general delay in language development (Rice et al., 1995)

slide94
Table 3: The Grammatical and Processing Properties of the Test Sentences and the Subject Group for which Each Sentence Type is Difficult
novogrodsky friedmann 2006
Novogrodsky & Friedmann (2006)
  • 18 Hebrew-speaking children with SLI, aged 9;3 to 14;6 years (mean =12;6).
  • 28 TD children divided into three subgroups: 8 (7 years old), 13 (9 years old), and 7 (10 years old).
  • 13 participated in the preference task, and 16 participated in the picture description task (11 participated in both tasks).
slide101
Children with S-SLI have difficulties in the production of relative clauses, especially in object relatives that were mainly related to thematic role assignment.
  • Age is not a factor in the production of relative clauses in that age range. Their production was either identical or virtually the same with no significant difference in both tasks.
  • In the preference task the S-SLI children produced significantly fewer target object relatives than the control group (60% compared to 94%), and significantly fewer subject relatives (94%compared to 99%).
  • In the picture description task the S-SLI children produced significantly fewer target object relatives than the control group (46% compared to 94%), and significantly fewer subject relatives (83%compared to 98%). (See figure 3).
  • The children used a variety of structures in order to provide a task-appropriate response without using the impaired syntactic abilities. The non target responses in both tasks included thematic errors and reduction of thematic roles, avoidance of movement from object position, relative head doubling and production of simple sentences without a relative clause.
  • No complementizers were omitted.