Longitudinal Relationships Between Lexical and Grammatical Development in Typical and Late-Talking Children

Moyle, Maura Jones; Weismer, Susan Ellis; Evans, Julia L.; Lindstrom, Mary J.
April 2007
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Apr2007, Vol. 50 Issue 2, p508
Academic Journal
Purpose: This study examined the longitudinal relationships between lexical and grammatical development in typically developing (TD) and late-talking children for the purposes of testing the single-mechanism account of language acquisition and comparing the developmental trajectories of lexical and grammatical development in late-talking and TD children. Method: Participants included 30 children identified as late talkers (LTs) at 2;0 (years; months), and 30 TD children matched on age, nonverbal cognition, socioeconomic status, and gender. Data were collected at 5 points between 2;0 and 5;6. Results: Cross-lagged correlational analyses indicated that TD children showed evidence of bidirectional bootstrapping between lexical and grammatical development between 2;0 and 3;6. Compared with the TD group, LTs exhibited less evidence of syntactic bootstrapping. Linear mixed-effects modeling of language sample data suggested that the relationship between lexical and grammatical growth was similar for the 2 groups. Conclusion: Lexical and grammatical development were strongly related in both groups, consistent with the single-mechanism account of language acquisition. The results were mixed in terms of finding longitudinal differences in lexical-grammatical relationships between the TD and late-talking children; however, several analyses suggested that for late-talking children, syntactic growth may be less facilitative of lexical development.


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