Specific Language Impairment in French-Speaking Children: Beyond Grammatical Morphology

Thordardottir, Elin T.; Namazi, Mahchid
June 2007
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Jun2007, Vol. 50 Issue 3, p698
Academic Journal
Purpose: Studies on specific language impairment (SLI) in French have identified specific aspects of morphosyntax as particularly vulnerable. However, a cohesive picture of relative strengths and weaknesses characterizing SLI in French has not been established. In light of normative data showing low morphological error rates in the spontaneous language of French-speaking preschoolers, the relative prominence of such errors in SLI in young children was questioned. Method: Spontaneous language samples were collected from 12 French-speaking preschool-age children with SLI, as well as 12 children with normal language development matched on age and 12 children with normal language development matched on mean length of utterance. Language samples were analyzed for length of utterance; lexical diversity and composition; diversity of grammatical morphology and morphological errors, including verb finiteness; subject omission; and object clitics. Results: Children with SLI scored lower than age-matched children on all of these measures but similarly to the mean length of utterance-matched controls. Errors in grammatical morphology were very infrequent in all groups, with no significant group differences. Conclusion: The results indicate that the spontaneous language of French-speaking children with SLI in the preschool age range is characterized primarily by a generalized language impairment and that morphological deficits do not stand out as an area of particular vulnerability, in contrast with the pattern found in English for this age group.


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