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Academic Paper


Title: Verb inflection in German-learning children with typical and atypical language acquisition: the impact of subsyllabic frequencies
Author: Edith L. Bavin
Institution: La Trobe University
Author: Letitia R. Naigles
Institution: University of Connecticut
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Subject Language: German
Abstract: Previous research has shown that high phonotactic frequencies facilitate the production of regularly inflected verbs in English-learning children with specific language impairment (SLI) but not with typical development (TD). We asked whether this finding can be replicated for German, a language with a much more complex inflectional verb paradigm than English. Using an elicitation task, the production of inflected nonce verb forms (3 person singular with -t suffix) with either high- or low-frequency subsyllables was tested in sixteen German-learning children with SLI (ages 4;1–5;1), sixteen TD-children matched for chronological age (CA) and fourteen TD-children matched for verbal age (VA) (ages 3;0–3;11). The findings revealed that children with SLI, but not CA- or VA-children, showed differential performance between the two types of verbs, producing more inflectional errors when the verb forms resulted in low-frequency subsyllables than when they resulted in high-frequency subsyllables, replicating the results from English-learning children.

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This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 40, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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