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Utterance length and lexical diversity in Cantonese-speaking children with and without specific language impairment

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


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Two studies of children's conversational language abilities are reported. In the first, mean length of utterance (MLU) and lexical diversity (D) were examined in a group of typically developing Cantonese-speaking children in Hong Kong. Regression analyses indicated a significant linear relationship between MLU and age (R = .44) and a significant curvilinear relationship between D and age (R = .73) in children age 27-68 months. MLU and D were moderately correlated with each other (r = .23); however, the two measures showed no statistical relationship when the effect of age was partialled out. In a second study, the utterances of Chinese children with specific language impairment (SLI) were found to be significantly shorter and less lexically diverse than typically developing children matched for age but similar to children matched for comprehension level. Discriminant analyses revealed that the combination of age, MLU, and D could be used to accurately differentiate children with SLI from both age-matched and language-matched children. Based on these findings, we hypothesize that these measures can be used jointly as a marker of SLI in Cantonese-speaking children.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Klee T, Stokes SF, Wong AM-Y, Fletcher P, Gavin WJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

Year: 2004

Volume: 47

Issue: 6

Pages: 1396-1410

ISSN (print): 1092-4388

ISSN (electronic): 1558-9102

Publisher: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association


DOI: 10.1044/1092-4388(2004/104)

PubMed id: 15842018


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