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      Comprehension of definite expressions by Mandarin-speaking children with suspected developmental language disorder (DLD) and children with autism spectrum disorder and language impairment (ALI)

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      Glossa: a journal of general linguistics
      Open Library of the Humanities

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          Abstract

          An increasing number of studies have shown that there is a subgroup inside children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who demonstrates impaired language profiles similar to children with developmental language disorder (DLD). As a discriminative marker, the determiner element is known to be particularly vulnerable in children with DLD, while less is known about the situation in children with ASD who show accompanying language impairment (ALI). The current study therefore investigates whether and how Mandarin-speaking children with DLD and children with ALI differ in their comprehension of definite expressions.To this end, 28 children with suspected DLD (Mean=5;2, SD=0;7), 32 children with ALI (Mean=5;3, SD=0;8), and 28 typically-developing children (Mean=5;3, SD=0;5) participated in the present study. Each child was experimentally tested on a series of picture judgment tasks, in which demonstrative-classifier NPs, third-person pronouns, and bare NPs were examined in the anaphoric environment.The findings showed that neither of the suspected DLD or ALI groups performed at target-like levels on the three definite expressions. This is most likely caused by the two groups’ immature knowledge of the syntax-semantics interface within the DP construction. Nonetheless, there remains a significant difference in the interpretation of third-person pronouns between the suspected DLD and ALI groups, with the worse performance in the latter group presumably resulting from co-morbid processing differences typical of individuals with ASD.

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          Children with Specific Language Impairment

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            Toward tense as a clinical marker of specific language impairment in English-speaking children.

            A critical clinical issue is the identification of a clinical marker, a linguistic form or principle that can be shown to be characteristic of children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI). In this paper we evaluate, as candidate clinical markers, a set of morphemes that mark Tense. In English, this includes -s third person singular, -ed regular past, BE, and DO. According to the Extended Optional Infinitive Account (EOI) of Rice, Wexler, and Cleave (1995), this set of morphemes is likely to appear optionally in the grammars of children with SLI at a rate lower than the optionality evident in younger controls. Three groups of preschool children participated: 37 children with SLI, and two control groups, one of 40 MLU-equivalent children and another of 45 age-equivalent children. Three kinds of evidence support the conclusion that a set of morphemes that marks Tense can be considered a clinical marker: (a) low levels of accuracy for the target morphemes for the SLI group relative to either of the two control groups; (b) affectedness for the set of morphemes defined by the linguistic function of Tense, but not for morphemes unrelated to Tense; and (c) a bimodal distribution for Tense-marking morphemes relative to age peers, in which the typical children are at essentially adult levels of the grammar, whereas children in the SLI group were at low (i.e., non-adultlike) levels of performance. The clinical symptoms are evident in omissions of surface forms. Errors of subject-verb agreement and syntactic misuses are rare, showing that, as predicted, children in an EOI stage who are likely to mark Tense optionally at the same time know a great deal about the grammatical properties of finiteness and agreement in the adult grammar. The findings are discussed in terms of alternative accounts of the grammatical limitations of children with SLI and implications for clinical identification.
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              A First Language

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Glossa: a journal of general linguistics
                Open Library of the Humanities
                2397-1835
                January 7 2024
                January 24 2024
                : 9
                : 1
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Guangdong University of Foreign Studies
                [2 ]Guangdong University of Education
                Article
                10.16995/glossa.9723
                84b1ad52-b4cc-4484-b3d5-0373c62dd2f0
                © 2024

                https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

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