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Past tense –ed omissions by children with specific language impairment: the role of sonority and phonotactics

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Nick Riches



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) frequently omit past tense –ed. Omission rates are subject to phonological context. Two phonological characteristics were manipulated; the sonority profile of the stem-final phoneme plus affix, and the phonotactic probability of the word-final phonemes (/i:pt/ in beeped). 17 children with SLI (mean age 6;7) and 21 language-matched children (mean age 4;8) repeated sentences containing regularly inflected verbs according to a 2 (sonority) by 2 (phonotactic legality) design. Affix omissions were analysed. There was a significant effect of sonority only, characterised by a difficulty with level-sonority clusters, and no interaction. Syllabic affixes, e.g. head-ed, were produced relatively accurately. It is argued that –ed omissions in SLI may reflect a low-level speech or articulation difficulty which surfaces in uniquely challenging clusters. This is not an alternative to morphosyntactic accounts; rather past tense omissions are best explained according to complexity in multiple domains; syntactic, morpho-syntactic and phonological.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Riches N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics

Year: 2015

Volume: 29

Issue: 6

Pages: 482-497

Print publication date: 01/06/2015

Online publication date: 22/04/2015

Acceptance date: 06/03/2015

Date deposited: 05/05/2015

ISSN (print): 0269-9206

ISSN (electronic): 1464-5076

Publisher: Informa Healthcare


DOI: 10.3109/02699206.2015.1027832


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