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Number dissimilarities facilitate the comprehension of relative clauses in children with (Grammatical) Specific Language Impairment*

  • FLAVIA ADANI (a1), MATTEO FORGIARINI (a2), MARIA TERESA GUASTI (a2) and HEATHER K. J. VAN DER LELY (a3)

Abstract

This study investigates whether number dissimilarities on subject and object DPs facilitate the comprehension of subject- and object-extracted centre-embedded relative clauses in children with Grammatical Specific Language Impairment (G-SLI). We compared the performance of a group of English-speaking children with G-SLI (mean age: 12;11) with that of two groups of younger typically developing (TD) children, matched on grammar and receptive vocabulary, respectively. All groups were more accurate on subject-extracted relative clauses than object-extracted ones and, crucially, they all showed greater accuracy for sentences with dissimilar number features (i.e., one singular, one plural) on the head noun and the embedded DP. These findings are interpreted in the light of current psycholinguistic models of sentence comprehension in TD children and provide further insight into the linguistic nature of G-SLI.

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Copyright

The online version of this article is published within an Open Access environment subject to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence . The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.

Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Heather K. J. van der Lely, Department of Psychology, Harvard University. William James Hall, 33 Kirkland Street, Cambridge MA, USA. e-mail: hvdlely@wjh.harvard.edu

Footnotes

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[*]

We would like to thank the children who took part in the study, their parents, and the staff from the following schools: Dawn House School, Moor House School, and Radlett Primary School. We are grateful to Nichola Gallon, Angela Pozzuto, and Chloë Marshall for their help in designing the experiment and helping out with testing, to Mike Coleman for sharing his technical expertise, and to Chloë Marshall and Outi Tuomainen for their comments on a previous version of the manuscript. All remaining errors are of course our own. FA was supported by a PhD scholarship awarded by the University Milano-Bicocca; HvdL was supported by The Wellcome Trust Grant (063713); MTG, MF, and HvdL were supported by the grant Cross-linguistic Language Diagnosis (CLAD, 135295-LLP-1-2007-UK-Ka1-Ka1SCR). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, the decision to publish or the preparation of the manuscript.

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References

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Number dissimilarities facilitate the comprehension of relative clauses in children with (Grammatical) Specific Language Impairment*

  • FLAVIA ADANI (a1), MATTEO FORGIARINI (a2), MARIA TERESA GUASTI (a2) and HEATHER K. J. VAN DER LELY (a3)

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