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Utterance Length and Lexical Diversity in American- and British-English Speaking Children: What is the Evidence for a Clinical Marker of SLI?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Thomas Klee, Professor Stephanie Stokes


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Several proposals have been made for what might constitute a clinical marker of specific language impairment in children. While the sensitivity and specificity of some candidate markers have been reported, information regarding likelihood ratios, confidence intervals, and post-test probabilities is usually absent. This chapter begins with a summary of how various candidate markers compare on these measures. A new composite index based on utterance length (MLU), lexical diversity (D) and age originally developed with Cantonese-speaking children (Klee, Stokes, Wong, Fletcher & Gavin, 2004) was then examined in English-speaking children between 24-48 months of age with and without language difficulties. In a sample of 152 British and American children, MLU and D were each highly correlated with age but varied as a function of gender and nationality. In a sample of children with and without SLI, the index was more accurate in differentiating 3-year-olds with and without language difficulties than it was in differentiating 2-year-olds. The index compares favorably with other candidate markers but requires validation employing a larger sample.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Klee T, Gavin WJ, Stokes SF

Editor(s): Rhea, P

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Language Disorders From a Developmental Perspective: Essays in Honor of Robin S. Chapman

Year: 2007

Pages: 103-140

Edition: 1st

Series Title: New Directions in Communication Disorders Research

Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum

Place Published: Mahwah, NJ

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9780805850376