LINGUIST List 16.2303|
Mon Aug 01 2005
Diss: Morphology/Psycholing: McGuckian: 'The ...'
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The Grammatical Morpheme Deficit in Children with Hearing Impairment, Children with Down's Syndrome and Children with Specific Language Impairment
Message 1: The Grammatical Morpheme Deficit in Children with Hearing Impairment, Children with Down's Syndrome and Children with Specific Language Impairment
From: Maria McGuckian <M.McGuckianulster.ac.uk>
Subject: The Grammatical Morpheme Deficit in Children with Hearing Impairment, Children with Down's Syndrome and Children with Specific Language Impairment
Institution: University of Ulster
Program: Faculty of Social Sciences
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2004
Author: Maria McGuckian
Dissertation Title: The Grammatical Morpheme Deficit in Children with Hearing Impairment, Children with Down's Syndrome and Children with Specific Language Impairment
Grammatical morphemes have been reported to be problematic for children
whose language learning problems appear to derive from very different
origins, including specific language impairment (SLI) (e.g. Leonard, Eyer,
Bedore & Grela, 1997), Down's syndrome (DS) (e.g. Chapman, 1995) and
hearing impairment (HI) (e.g. Norbury, Bishop & Briscoe, 2001). This thesis
was designed to establish whether the nature of the grammatical morpheme
difficulty is similar or different across (English-speaking) groups of
children who present with moderate-HI, DS and SLI. It was hypothesized that
the grammatical morpheme deficit would be more similar than different
across these distinct clinical groups and that any obvious differences
between the groups would be largely quantitative in nature.
A wealth of production data, including elicited as well as spontaneous
speech data, was collected and analysed so that across-group comparisons
could be made for rates of production of a range of grammatical morphemes
(11 different forms - tense and non-tense morphemes), for types and
proportions of grammatical morpheme errors and for order of grammatical
In addressing the key hypothesis of the research there was first
consideration of the nature of the grammatical morpheme deficit for each of
the three clinical groups under study when compared to mean length of
utterance (MLU)-matched typically developing children. Following that,
explicit comparisons were made between the different clinical groups for
patterns and rates of grammatical morpheme use.
In the main, the findings supported the key hypothesis showing many
similarities between the various clinical groups for grammatical morpheme
use. However, some intriguing differences also emerged.
The findings showed that the children with HI were sensitive to frequency
of elements in input; perhaps until they reach a necessary threshold for
spoken language intake. In contrast, the children with DS and SLI did not
show the same sensitivity to input frequency. Rather, those children seemed
to have extracted generalisations from the input. The findings showed that
children with DS and SLI can present with command of forms like irregular
past tense appropriate for chronological or mental age, whilst at the same
time present with a deficit with many grammatical morphemes, including past
tense -ed and possessive -s. Additionally -and specific to SLI- the
findings support research suggesting that problems with grammatical
morphemes are less obvious in many older children with that condition.
The thesis findings contribute to understanding of grammatical morpheme
acquisition in HI, in DS and in SLI and to knowledge of the underlying
nature of grammatical morpheme acquisition generally. The findings indicate
that the underlying linguistic system is ultimately regulated by a dual
mechanism and that linguistic abstractions may be more dependent on
specific linguistic experiences than a classic generative account would
predict. Additionally, the research provides direct evidence that data from
elicitation procedures can be as representative a measure of children's use
of grammatical morphemes as spontaneous speech data.
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