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Academic Paper

Title: The interface between neighborhood density and optional infinitives: normal development and Specific Language Impairment
Author: Jill R. Hoover
Institution: University of Kansas
Author: Holly L. Storkel
Institution: University of Kansas
Author: Mabel L. Rice
Institution: University of Kansas
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics
Abstract: The effect of neighborhood density on optional infinitives was evaluated for typically developing (TD) children and children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI). Forty children, twenty in each group, completed two production tasks that assessed third person singular production. Half of the sentences in each task presented a dense verb, and half presented a sparse verb. Children's third person singular accuracy was compared across dense and sparse verbs. Results showed that the TD group was significantly less likely to use optional infinitives with dense, rather than sparse verbs. In contrast, the distribution of optional infinitives for the SLI group was independent of verb neighborhood density. Follow-up analyses showed that the lack of neighborhood density effect for the SLI group could not be attributed to heterogeneous neighborhood density effects or floor effects. Results were interpreted within the Optional Infinitive/Extended Optional Infinitive accounts for typical language development and SLI for English-speaking children.


This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 39, Issue 4, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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