ERIC Number: EJ719581
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Dec-1
A Closer Look at MLU: What Does It Really Measure?
Dethorne, Laura S.; Johnson, Bonnie W.; Loeb, Jane W.
Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, v19 n8 p635-648 Dec 2005
Despite the common use of mean length of utterance (MLU) as a diagnostic measure, what it actually reflects in terms of linguistic knowledge is relatively unclear. This study explored the extent to which variance in MLU could be accounted for by a measure of expressive vocabulary and a measure of morphosyntax in a group of 44 typically-developing children, ages 28-37 months. Regression techniques were employed to predict MLU from number of different words (NDW) and a tense accuracy composite (TAC). Depending on whether the variable was acting alone or in concert with the other, TAC accounted for 23% or none of the variance in MLU, while NDW accounted for 51% or 28%. We offer three potential explanations for the observed association between MLU and NDW, none of which necessarily precludes the others.
Descriptors: Language Acquisition, Expressive Language, Morphology (Languages), Syntax, Young Children, Vocabulary Development, Diagnostic Tests, Morphemes, Evaluation Methods
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Mean Length of Utterance