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
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 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 • 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? • 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)
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 6 verbs: wash, mend, paint, eat, cut, hit
Results (p.258) Reversal Adjectival Passive
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
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) • (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 • 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 Mabel L. Rice, Kenneth Wexler, & Jennifer Francois Paper Presented at the BU Conference on Language Development Boston, MA, November 1-4, 2001
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 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 By 10 years of age, children in the SLI group comprehended reversible full verbal passives, showing knowledge of movement (A-chains)
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 Maria Babyonyshev, Lesley Hart, & Elena Grigorenko. 2005. Paper presented at Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics - The Princeton Meeting
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)
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 * 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? 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
“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."
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 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 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 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
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 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.
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)
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 • 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 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)
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? • 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: • WISH – subject questions first • VMH – subject and object questions at the same time • PGH – object questions first