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 • Tense and Agreement • Passive • Binding • WH-Questions • Relative clauses
Tense as a clinical marker for SLI The use of Root/Optional Infinitives
The phenomenon • Up to the age of three children use the infinitival form of the verbs in indicative matrix clauses in 50% of their verbal utterances in English (Wexler 1994), and to a lesser extent in other languages (Armon-Lotem 1996a, Hyams 1995, Rhee & Wexler 1995, Rizzi 1994a). • Finite sentences are produced at the same time • Children seem to know the grammatical properties of finiteness and non-finiteness (e.g., Deprez & Pierce 1994)
1) a. It only write on the pad b. He bite me c. My finger hurts 2) M: ma at osa? what you do 'what are you doing ? L: tapuaxlishtot(Lior 1;08) apple to-drink 'I drink an apple'
Infinitival forms constitute only 5% of the Italian data. >>> Extensive use of root infinitives correlates with non-null subject languages. • “A language goes through an OI stage if and only if the language isnotan INFL-licensed null-subject language.” (Wexler 1996(
Armon-Lotem (1996) for Hebrew • There’s a gradual increase in the use of inflected verbs. • Past tense morphology is acquired prior to person morphology, but this does not correlate with a decrease in the use of root infinitives, but rather with a decrease in the use of “stem-like forms”. • The use of root infinitives reduces (from 5% to less than 1%) only when questions (and subordination) are mastered (last stage of Klima & Bellugi 1966).
Inflections in Hebrew speaking children with SLI • Dromi, E. & S. Davidson. 2002. A Clinical Marker for HSLI: from Empirical Findings to Theorizing. Paper presented at Brain and Language: Language Acquisition in Special Populations, Bar Ilan University, June. • Dromi, E., Leonard, L., Adam, G. & Zadunaisky-Ehrlich, S. 1999. Verb Agreement Morphology in Hebrew-Speaking Children with Specific Language Impairment. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 42, 1414-1431. • Dromi, E., Leonard, L.B., & Adam, G. 1997. Evaluating the morphological abilities of Hebrew- speaking children with SLI. Amsterdam Series in Child language Development, 6, 65-78, • Dromi, E., L. B. Leonard, and M. Shteiman (1993) The grammatical morphology of Hebrew-speaking children with Specific Language Impairment: some competing hypotheses. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research 36: 760-771
The morphological richness hypothesis • SLI children have a limited processing capacity. They focus on the most salient aspects of the language they acquire. For example, in English they focus on word-order and ignore the morphology, while in German they focus on morphology and ignore the word order. • Subjects: SLI, NDA, NDL (matched by MLU)
Dromi, E., L. B. Leonard, and M. Shteiman (1993) • Findings: “Hebrew speaking children with SLI resembled their MLU controls in their use of both present and past tense inflections requiring agreement with the subject”. • In the nominal system, plural formation, adjectival agreement, and the use of the accusative case marker are all delayed, but not different from language matched controls. >>> SLI is a delay
Dromi, E., Leonard, L., Adam, G. & Zadunaisky-Ehrlich, S. (1999) Method: • Sentence completion for 3rd person. Enactment tasks for 1st and 2nd person. • 4 conjugations: pa'al, piel, hitpael, hif'il. The inflectional paradigm for past and present.
Findings • In present tense, both SLI and NDL used past for preset • In present tense, both SLI and NDL used masculine for feminine in singular and plural. • SLI found Hitpa'el more difficult – using p'iel instead. Simplifying consonants cluster. • SLI found Hif'il more difficult – using present for past and vice versa, using infinitives. • SLI found pi'el more difficult – they used also stripped forms • In past tense, 3rd person singular replaced many of the inflected forms. • SLI used it mostly instead of other singular forms (56/64) – mostly for 2nd person • NDL used it mostly instead of plural forms. • Past tense does pose a problem for Hebrew speaking SLI children, whereas difficulties with present tense are less pronounced. • Most errors were mostly related to the use of tense (60/144)) or person (67/144), but usually not both. • Most errors were different by one feature from the target (77% in the past tense) >>> A limited processing capacity, since more complex structures, which place more demands on the system, seem to be more impaired.
Blass A. 2000. Method: Spontaneous speech samples of the same children Findings: • No difference between SLI and NDL in the level of inflections • No difference between SLI and NDL in the mastery of inflections • Out of all forms in Pa’al (80% of verbs), 90% were tensed. • SLI used more bare (stripped) forms – significant, but the numbers are small. • SLI and NDL had similar errors, but SLI had more. • In natural settings children do what they know and avoid the difficult forms. >>>Delay
Davidson, S. 2002. The Language Profile of Hebrew Speaking Preschoolers with Specific Language Impairement. M.A. Thesis, TAU. Methodology: H-IPSyn Findings: SLI are similar to NDL but for three criteria: • Lexicon - SLI use a smaller variety of verb types than NDL • Mrpho-syntax - SLI make more errors than NDL but of the same kind • Pragmatic (??)- SLI have difficulties with reference not found in the NDL group
Passive Participle vs. Regular Past Tense Laurence B. Leonard, Patricia Deevy, Carol A. Miller, Leila Rauf, Monique Charest, and Robert Kurtz. 2003. Surface Forms and Grammatical Functions: Past Tense and Passive Participle Use by Children with Specific Language Impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research Vol.46 43-55 The girl pushed the boy. The boy got pushed by the girl. • EOI account: different • The surface account: same
Method Subjects • 12 of the children (aged from 4,6 to 6, 10) with SLI • 12 ND-A • 12 ND-MLU Sentence completion tasks: • the use of past tense verb forms • the use of passive participle verb forms
Summary • The inconsistency with which children with SLI produce past –ed cannot be due to the surface property of this inflection. Its grammatical function probably plays the central role. • Children with SLI have special problems with verb morphology, even when tense is not involved. The passive participle –ed proved to be one such area of weakness.
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
Issues in acquisition • Reversible vs. non-reversible • Actional vs. non-actional • Adjectival vs. Verbal >> • Do children understand the by-phrase? • Comprehension vs. Production >>
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)’ <<
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
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 – TAPS (Picture selection task) • (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 6 verbs: wash, mend, paint, eat, cut, hit
Results (p.258) Reversal Adjectival Passive
p. 259 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.
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
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