Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Answering hard questions: Wh-movement across dialects and disorder

  • JILL DE VILLIERS (a1), THOMAS ROEPER (a2), LINDA BLAND-STEWART (a3) and BARBARA PEARSON (a2)

Abstract

A large-scale study of complex wh-questions with 1,000 subjects aged 4–9 years is reported. The subjects' dialects were Mainstream American English or African American English, and approximately one-third were language impaired. The study examined when children permit long distance wh-movement, and when they respect a variety of syntactic barriers to movement. Thirteen different structures were compared, and the results suggest that typically developing children and disordered children at all the ages studied are capable of long-distance movement and obedience to abstract barriers. In no case was dialect a significant factor in the children's linguistic performance on these tasks.

Copyright

Corresponding author

ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Jill de Villiers, Department of Psychology, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063. E-mail: jdevil@smith.edu

References

Hide All
Abdulkarim, L. (2001). Complex wh-questions and Universal Grammars: New evidence from the acquisition of negative barriers. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Bland, L. M., de Villiers, J. G., Roeper, T., Champion, T., & Seymour, H. N. (1992, November). Wh-movement in children of divergent language backgrounds. Presented at the American Speech–Language–Hearing Association Annual Meeting, San Antonio, TX.
Blank, M. (1976). Mastering the intangible through language. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 263, 4458.
Chomsky, N. (1977). On wh-movement. In Culicover, P. W., Wasow, T., & Akmajian, A. (Eds.), Formal syntax (pp. 71132). New York: Academic Press.
Chomsky, N. (1982). Some concepts and consequences of the theory of government and binding. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Chomsky, N. (1986). Barriers. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Chomsky, N. (1995). The minimalist program. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Chomsky, N. (2004). On phases. Accessed October 1, 2006 from http://dmtr.ru/blog/omniling/
Coles-White, D.J., de Villiers, J. G., & Roeper, T. (2004). The emergence of barriers to wh-movement, negative concord and quantification. In Brugos, A., Micciulla, L., & Smith, C. (Eds.), The proceedings of the 28th annual Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 98107). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
Craig, H. K., Connor, C. A., & Washington, J. A. (2003). Early positive predictors of later reading comprehension for African American students: A preliminary investigation. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 34, 3134.
Craig, H. K., & Washington, J. A. (1994). The complex syntax skills of poor, urban African American preschoolers at school entry. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 25, 181190.
Craig, H. K., & Washington, J. A. (2000). An assessment battery for identifying language impairments in African American children. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 43, 366379.
Craig, H. K., & Washington, J. A. (2002). Oral language expectations for African American preschoolers and kindergartners. American Journal of Speech–Language Pathology, 11, 5970.
Craig, H. K., Washington, J. A., & Thompson, C. A. (1998). Performances of young African American children on two comprehension tasks. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 41, 445457.
Craig, H. K., Washington, J. A., & Thompson, C. A. (2005). Oral language expectations for African American children in grades 1 through 5. American Journal of Speech–Language Pathology, 14, 119130.
Dayal, V. (2000). Scope marking: Cross-linguistic variation in indirect dependency. In Lutz, U., Muller, G., & Von Stechow, A. (Eds.), Wh-scope marking (pp. 157193). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Deevy, P., & Leonard, L. (2004). The comprehension of wh-questions in children with Specific Language Impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 47, 802815.
de Villiers, J. G. (1991). Why questions? In Plunkett, B. & Maxfield, T. (Eds.), The acquisition of Wh. Amherst, MA: UMOP.
de Villiers, J. G. (1996). Defining the open and closed program for acquisition: The case of wh-questions. In Rice, M. (Ed.), Towards a genetics of language (pp. 145184). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
de Villiers, J. G. (1999). On acquiring the structural representations for false complements. In Hollebrandse, B. (Ed.), New perspectives on language acquisition. Amherst, MA: UMOP.
de Villiers, J. G. (2005). Can language acquisition give children a point of view? In Astington, J. & Baird, J. (Eds.), Why language matters for theory of mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
de Villiers, J. G., de Villiers, P. A., & Roeper, T. (2007). How is partial movement resolved? Unpublished manuscript.
de Villiers, J. G., & Pyers, J. (2002). Complements to cognition: A longitudinal study of the relationship between complex syntax and false-belief understanding. Cognitive Development, 17, 10371060.
de Villiers, J., & Roeper, T. (1995a). Barriers, binding, and acquisition of the DP–NP distinction. Language Acquisition, 4, 73104.
de Villiers, J. G., & Roeper, T. (1995b). Relative clauses are barriers to wh-movement for young children. Journal of Child Language, 22, 389404.
de Villiers, J. G., & Roeper, T. (1996). Questions after stories: On supplying context and removing it as a variable. In McDaniel, D., Cairns, H., & McKee, C. (Eds.), Methods for assessing children's syntax (pp. 163188). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
de Villiers, J., Roeper, T., & Vainikka, A. (1990). The acquisition of long-distance rules. In Frazier, L. & de Villiers, J. (Eds.), Language processing and language acquisition (pp. 257297). Boston: Kluwer Academic.
de Villiers, P. A., Burns, F. A., & Pearson, B. Z. (2003). The role of language in Theory of Mind development in language impaired children: Complementing theories. In Beachley, B., Brown, A., & Conlin, F. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 27th annual Boston University Language Development Conference (pp. 232242). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
Fanselow, G. (2005). Partial wh-movement. In Everaert, M. & van Riemsdijk, H. (Eds.), The Blackwell companion to syntax (Vol. 3). Oxford: Blackwell.
Goodluck, H., Foley, M., & Sedivy, J. (1992). Adjunct islands and acquisition. In Goodluck, H. & Rochemont, M. (Eds.), Island constraints (pp. 181194). Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Green, L. (2002). African American English: A linguistic introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
McDaniel, D. (1989). Partial and multiple wh-movement. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, 7, 565604.
McDaniel, D., Chiu, B., & Maxfield, T. (1995). Parameters for wh-movement types: Evidence from child language. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, 13, 709753.
Mufwene, S. S. (Ed.). (1998). African-American English: Structure, history, and use. London: Routledge.
Oiry, M., & Demirdache, H. (2006). Evidence from L1 acquisition for the syntax of wh-scope marking in French. Unpublished manuscript, University of Nantes.
Otsu, Y. (1981). Universal grammar and syntactic development in children: Toward a theory of syntactic development. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, MIT.
Radford, A. (1988). Transformational grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Rizzi, L. (1991). Relativized minimality. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Roeper, T., & de Villiers, J. G. (2006). Partial movement in SLI. Paper presented at the Latsis Colloquium, University of Geneva, January 2006.
Roeper, T. (2004). Diagnosing language variations: Underlying principles for syntactic assessment. Seminars in Speech and Language, 25, 4156.
Roeper, T., & Seymour, H. N. (1994). The place of linguistic theory in the theory of language acquisition and language impairment. In Levy, Y. (Ed.), Other children, other languages: Issues in the theory of language acquisition (pp. 305330). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Ross, J. R. (1967). Constraints on variables in syntax. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, MIT.
Schulz, B. (2004). A Minimalist account of partial wh-movement. Unpublished manuscript, University of Hawaii.
Seymour, H. N., & Pearson, B. Z. (Guest Eds.). (2004). Evaluating language variation: Distinguishing development and dialect from disorder [Special Issue]. Seminars in Speech and Language, 25.
Seymour, H. N., Roeper, T., & de Villiers, J. G. (2000). Dialect Sensitive Language Test: Pilot edition. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation.
Seymour, H. N., Roeper, T., & de Villiers, J. G. (2003). Diagnostic Evaluation of Language Variation—Screening Test (DELV-ST). San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation.
Seymour, H. N., Roeper, T., & de Villiers, J. G. (2005). Diagnostic Evaluation of Language Variation—Norm Referenced (DELV-NR). San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation.
Thornton, R. (1991). Adventures in long distance moving: The acquisition of wh-questions. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Connecticut.
Tomblin, J. B., Records, N. L., Buckwalter, P., Zhang, X., Smith, E., & O'Brien, M. (1997). Prevalence of specific language impairment in kindergarten children. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 40, 12451260.
Vainikka, A., & Roeper, T. (1995). Abstract operators in early acquisition. Linguistic Review, 12, 275310.
van der Lely, H. K. J. (1998). SLI in children: Movement, economy and deficits in the computational–syntactic system. Language Acquisition, 7, 161192.
van der Lely, H. K. J. (2003). Do heterogeneous SLI deficits need heterogeneous theories? SLI subgroups, G-SLI and the RDDR hypothesis. In Levy, Y. & Schaeffer, J. (Eds.), Toward a definition of specific language impairment (pp. 109134). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
van der Lely, H. K. J., & Battell, J. (2003). Wh-movement in children with grammatical SLI: A test of the RDDR hypothesis. Language, 79, 153181.
Washington, J. A., & Craig, H. K. (1994). Dialectal forms during discourse of urban, African American preschoolers living in poverty. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 37, 816823.
Washington, J. A., & Craig, H. K. (1998). Socio-economic status and gender influences on children's dialectal variations. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 41, 618626.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Answering hard questions: Wh-movement across dialects and disorder

  • JILL DE VILLIERS (a1), THOMAS ROEPER (a2), LINDA BLAND-STEWART (a3) and BARBARA PEARSON (a2)

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.