Children with specific language impairment (SLI) often show an especially serious limitation in the use of grammatical morphology. These difficulties include problems with bound morphemes such as past tense and third person singular inflections, an functions words such a articles and auxiliary verbs. The purpose of this project is to explore the possible bases of these grammatical morpheme limitations, and to examine how such limitations might hinder other aspects of these children's language development. To accomplish this general goal, the grammatical morpheme comprehension and production abilities of children with SLI will be examined across three languages: English, Cantonese, and Spanish. Data from these different languages will be used to assess the relative adequacy of five recent accounts of grammatical difficulties in English-speaking children with SLI. Because the morphological properties of Cantonese and Spanish differ from those of English in critical ways, they offer a clearer view of the contribution of factors that are confounded in English, thereby facilitating interpretation of the data obtained from the English-speaking children with SLI. Inclusion of these other languages will also permit a stronger test of whether problems in word order are related to deficits in grammatical morphology, and whether problems with grammatical aspect contribute to the children's difficulty with tense. An understanding of the source of these children's problems with grammatical morphology and the role these problems play in other areas of language should lead to more appropriate treatment procedures for these children.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BBBP-6 (01))
Program Officer
Cooper, Judith
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Purdue University
Other Health Professions
Schools of Arts and Sciences
West Lafayette
United States
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Fey, Marc E; Leonard, Laurence B; Bredin-Oja, Shelley L et al. (2017) A Clinical Evaluation of the Competing Sources of Input Hypothesis. J Speech Lang Hear Res 60:104-120
Krok, Windi C; Leonard, Laurence B (2015) Past Tense Production in Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment Across Germanic Languages: A Meta-Analysis. J Speech Lang Hear Res 58:1326-40
Leonard, Laurence B (2015) Time-related grammatical use by children with SLI across languages: Beyond tense. Int J Speech Lang Pathol 17:545-555
Kunnari, Sari; Savinainen-Makkonen, Tuula; Leonard, Laurence B et al. (2014) The use of negative inflections by Finnish-speaking children with and without specific language impairment. Clin Linguist Phon 28:697-708
Leonard, Laurence B; Kunnari, Sari; Savinainen-Makkonen, Tuula et al. (2014) Noun Case Suffix Use by Children with Specific Language Impairment: An Examination of Finnish. Appl Psycholinguist 35:833-854
Leonard, Laurence B (2014) Specific Language Impairment Across Languages. Child Dev Perspect 8:1-5
Leonard, Laurence B (2014) Children with specific language impairment and their contribution to the study of language development. J Child Lang 41 Suppl 1:38-47
Souto, SofĂ­a M; Leonard, Laurence B; Deevy, Patricia (2014) Identifying risk for specific language impairment with narrow and global measures of grammar. Clin Linguist Phon 28:741-56
Leonard, Laurence B; Dispaldro, Marco (2013) The effects of production demands on grammatical weaknesses in specific language impairment: the case of clitic pronouns in Italian. J Speech Lang Hear Res 56:1272-86
Dispaldro, Marco; Leonard, Laurence B; Deevy, Patricia (2013) Real-word and nonword repetition in Italian-speaking children with specific language impairment: a study of diagnostic accuracy. J Speech Lang Hear Res 56:323-36

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