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ERIC Number: EJ777180
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Nov
Pages: 27
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0305-0009
The Use of Grammatical Morphemes Reflecting Aspect and Modality by Children with Specific Language Impairment
Leonard, Laurence B.; Deevy, Patricia; Miller, Carol A.; Charest, Monique; Kurtz, Robert; Rauf, Leila
Journal of Child Language, v30 n4 p769-795 Nov 2003
Children with specific language impairment (SLI) have well-documented problems in the use of tense-related grammatical morphemes. However, in English, tense often overlaps with aspect and modality. In this study, 15 children with SLI (mean age 5;2) and two groups of 15 typically developing children (mean ages 3;6 and 5;3) were compared in terms of their use of previously studied morphemes in contexts that more clearly assessed the role of aspect. The children's use of less frequently studied morphemes tied to modality or tense was also examined. The children with SLI were found to use "-ing" to mark progressive aspect in past as well as present contexts, even though they were relatively poor in using the tense morphemes (auxiliary "was", "were") that should accompany the progressive inflection. These children were inconsistent in their use of third person singular -s to describe habitual actions that were not occurring during the time of their utterance. However, the pattern of the children's use suggested that the source of the problem was the formal tense feature of the inflection, not the habitual action context. The children's use of modal "can" was comparable to that of the typically developing children, raising the possibility that the modality function of possibility had been learned without necessarily acquiring the tense feature of this morpheme. These children's proficiency with "can" suggests that their bare verb stem productions should probably not be re-interpreted as cases of missing modals. Together these findings suggest that the more serious tense-related problems seen in English-speaking children with SLI co-occur with a less impaired ability to express temporal relations through aspect and modality. (Contains 1 footnote.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Inst. on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders, Bethesda, MD.
Authoring Institution: N/A