The cochlear implant (CI) gives severely hearing impaired to profoundly
deaf children access to auditory speech input and consequently stimulates
their oral language development. However, speech perception with a CI is
still not optimal. Therefore, these children develop oral language based on
reduced auditory speech input. This dissertation aims at enhancing our
knowledge of whether a CI provides sufficient access to auditory speech
input to acquire verbal morphology. It takes a new perspective regarding
the research on morphology acquisition in CI children. The outcomes of the
children under investigation are not only compared to those of their normal
hearing peers, but also to those of their specific language impaired (SLI)
peers. The latter group is known to be particularly delayed in their
acquisition of verbal morphology.
One of the major findings of this dissertation is that CI children
outperform their SLI peers in the production of verbal morphology.
Remarkably, they are even able to catch up with their normal hearing peers.
Nevertheless, their spontaneous speech samples contain more verb inflection
errors as compared to similar samples from normal hearing peers. In this
respect CI children compare to their SLI peers. The results of the CI
children are further analyzed as a function of their age at implantation
and hearing age. Additional emphasis is given to the role of perceptual
salience in the acquisition of morphology.
This dissertation is of interest to scholars who are working in the field
of clinical linguistics, (atypical) language acquisition, verbal
morphology, as well as for language pathologists.