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ERIC Number: EJ766500
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Jun
Pages: 19
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1092-4388
Lexical Aspect and the Use of Verb Morphology by Children with Specific Language Impairment
Leonard, Laurence B.; Deevy, Patricia; Kurtz, Robert; Chorev, Laurie Krantz; Owen, Amanda; Polite, Elgustus; Elam, Diana; Finneran, Denise
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, v50 n3 p759-777 Jun 2007
Purpose: Many typically developing children first use inflections such as "-ed" with verb predicates whose meanings are compatible with the functions of the inflection (e.g., using "-ed" when describing events of brief duration with clear end points, such as "dropped"). This tendency is assumed to be beneficial for development. In this study, the authors examine whether preschool-aged children with specific language impairment (SLI) show a similar tendency. Method: Sixteen children in each of three groups participated--children with SLI, typically developing children matched for age (TD-A), and younger typically developing children matched for mean length of utterance (TD-MLU). The children described actions in contexts that promoted either past tense "-ed" or progressive aspect "-ing" in past contexts. Half of the verb predicates referred to events of brief duration with distinct endpoints (e.g., "drop"), and half referred to events of considerable duration with less distinct points of termination (e.g., "play"). Results: Both the TD-A children and the TD-MLU children used "-ed" with verb predicates of the first type more consistently than they did with verb predicates of the second type. They showed the reverse pattern for "-ing." The children with SLI did not show any effects according to the verb predicate type. However, although the children with SLI made less overall use of "-ed" than did both groups of TD children, they differed only from the TD-A children in their overall use of "-ing." Conclusion: Difficulties with tense-related morphology may be compounded in children with SLI if they fail to make use of associations between the lexical aspect of verb predicates and the grammatical function of the accompanying inflections. The authors argue that the advantages of using these associations as a starting point in acquisition may be especially important in the case of "-ed." Additional studies of children with SLI are clearly needed, including those that employ longitudinal, naturalistic data.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). 10801 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852. Tel: 800-638-8255; Fax: 301-571-0457; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Mean Length of Utterance