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Syntax and Interfaces with Morphology and Semantics
Theo Marinis & Petra Schultz
The most established linguistic indicators of SLI are found in syntax (sentence formation) and morphology (inflection of words). They are already being studied widely in bilingual children with SLI. Therefore, they serve as a starting point for this Action. WG1 will aim to identify structures which are less sensitive to crosslinguistic differences, and are vulnerable in monolingual and bilingual children with SLI, but not in typically developing bilingual children. In doing so, WG1 attempts to isolate the characteristics of bilingualism and language impairment
Telling a story, even supported by pictures, is difficult for children with SLI. WG2 will evaluate the ability of different tasks to elicit narratives and tap specifically bilingual properties. Examples of such tasks are: narratives in response to familiar and unfamiliar picture books, a bilingual retelling task, narratives without the benefit of picture stimuli, and an interactive task based on a controlled improvisation procedure. These tasks also allow for the assessment of language dominance and code-switching patterns.
There are 'rapid screening tools' for phonological processing as well as lexical processing. WG3 will estimate their potential for identifying SLI in bilinguals. Properties will be evaluated of non-word repetition and naming tasks in order to decide whether they are relevant for identifying SLI in bilingual populations with various language pairs. WG3 will also review bilingual lexical data in order to develop new bilingual measures of dominance and diversity.
Executive functions such as attention, inhibition, and control provide a promising direction for disentangling bilingualism and SLI. It is often assumed that executive functions are deficient in language-impaired children. Since tests for executive functioning are not necessarily language-dependent, they may provide a way of identifying indices of SLI without addressing language itself. WG4 will investigate which of these tasks are most appropriate for bilingual children with SLI and what are the best ways to adapt the tasks to the bilingual contexts.
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