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Complex sentence profiles in children with Specific Language Impairment: are they really atypical?

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) have language difficulties of unknown origin.Syntactic profiles are atypical, with poor performance on non-canonical structures, e.g. objectrelatives, suggesting a localised deficit. However, existing analyses using ANOVAs areproblematic because they do not systematically address unequal variance, or fully model randomeffects. Consequently, a Generalised Linear Model (GLM) was used to analyse data from aSentence Repetition (SR) task involving relative clauses. 17 children with SLI (mean age 6;7), 21Language Matched (LM) children (mean age 4;8) and 17 Age Matched (AM) children (mean age6;5) repeated 100 canonical and non-canonical sentences. ANOVAs found a significant Group byCanonicity interaction for the SLI versus AM contrast only. However, the GLM found nosignificant interaction. Consequently, arguments for a localised deficit may depend on statisticalmethods which are prone to exaggerate profile differences. Nonetheless, a subgroup of SLIexhibited particularly severe structural language difficulties.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Riches NG

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Child Language

Year: 2016

Volume: 44

Issue: 2

Pages: 269-296

Print publication date: 01/03/2017

Online publication date: 15/02/2016

Acceptance date: 14/09/2015

Date deposited: 14/09/2015

ISSN (print): 0305-0009

ISSN (electronic): 1469-7602

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S0305000915000847


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