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Case marking in German speaking children with specific language impairment and with phonological impairment

Lookup NU author(s): Juliane Hasselaar, Dr Carolyn Letts, Professor Cristina McKeanORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Taylor & Francis, 2019.

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Identification of children with specific language impairment (SLI, now known as DevelopmentalLanguage Disorder) remains challenging. Morphosyntax difficulties have been proposed aspotential linguistic ‘markers’ for SLI across a number of languages. This study investigates theexistence of such a clinical marker in German-speaking children with SLI, looking in particular atGerman case marking, and makes comparisons with matched typically developing groups and agroup with isolated phonological impairment (PI).A case-control study was completed with 66 pre-school children in four groups (1) SLI, (2) PI, (3)age matched typically developing children (TD-A) (4) language matched typically developingchildren (TD-L). Errors in nominative, accusative and dative marking were analysed from theproduction of articles in elicitation tasks and spontaneous language samples. The performanceof the SLI group was poorer than the TD-A group across all three grammatical casesinvestigated, but there was little supportive evidence for this being a diagnostic marker. It ishowever suggested that poor case marking may alert clinicians to the need for further linguisticassessment. No significant differences were found between the SLI and PI groups; rather scoresfor the PI group suggested they fell on a gradient between the SLI TD-A groups. Findings arediscussed in relation to the proposed new diagnostic category of developmental languagedisorder.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hasselaar J, Letts C, McKean C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics

Year: 2019

Volume: 33

Issue: 1-2

Pages: 117-134

Print publication date: 01/02/2019

Online publication date: 05/09/2018

Acceptance date: 23/07/2018

Date deposited: 30/07/2018

ISSN (print): 0269-9206

ISSN (electronic): 1464-5076

Publisher: Taylor & Francis


DOI: 10.1080/02699206.2018.1505955


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