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This study investigates the production and placement of direct object clitic pronouns in children with specific language impairment (SLI). A total of 38 bilectal children were divided into four groups: two groups of children with SLI and two groups of age-matched typically developing children; 5-year-olds in the younger and 7-year-olds in the older groups. The goals of the study were (i) to investigate whether object clitics could serve as a clinical marker for Cypriot Greek-speaking children with SLI, (ii) to explore whether there are any quantitative and/or qualitative differences between typical language development and SLI, and (iii) to determine possible differences between the age groups. The design of the experiment aimed to shed some light on the question whether children with SLI exhibit difficulties with clitic production in the context assessed. The results reported here do not support the cross-linguistic finding that clitic production could serve as a clinical marker for SLI in Cypriot Greek. However, what seems to be at stake is clitic (mis)placement, and the findings provide some evidence that there is more than meets the eye concerning the theoretical discussion around the use of clitics in Greek Cypriot children's language development.

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... All participants from the studies reported in Grohmann (2011), , and Theodorou and Grohmann (2015) were semi-randomly recruited across the urban centers of Nicosia and Limassol. The children from Leivada et al.'s (2010) study all came from the Nicosia municipality, and the bilingual children from Karpava and Grohmann (2014) all grew up in the Larnaca area. ...
... All participants received the task in one session, some in combination with other tasks (such as those tested in Theodorou and Grohmann, 2015;see Theodorou, 2013). The particular task lasted no longer than 10 min, the "short version" even less. ...
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A multitude of factors characterizes bi- and multilingual compared to monolingual language acquisition. Two of the most prominent viewpoints have recently been put in perspective and enriched by a third (Tsimpli 2014): age of onset of children’s exposure to their native languages, the role of the input they receive, and the timing in monolingual first language development of the phenomena examined in bi- and multilingual children’s performance. This article picks up a fourth potential factor (Grohmann 2014b): language proximity, that is, the closeness between the two or more grammars a multilingual child acquires. It is a first attempt to flesh out the proposed gradient scale of multilingualism within the approach dubbed ‘comparative bilingualism’. The empirical part of this project comes from three types of research: (i) the acquisition and subsequent development of pronominal object clitic placement in two closely related varieties of Greek by bilectal, binational, bilingual, and multilingual children; (ii) the performance on executive control tasks by monolingual, bilectal, and bi- or multilingual children; and (iii) the role of comparative bilingualism in children with a developmental language impairment for both the diagnosis and subsequent treatment as well as the possible avoidance or weakening of how language impairment presents.
... The Greek-speaking Republic of Cyprus, as it is summarized in Theodorou and Grohmann (2015), is generally described as "diglossia" (reviewed in Rowe and Grohmann, 2013), where the sociolinguistically "high" variety is typically accepted to be Standard Modern Greek (SMG), whereas the "low" variety is the vernacular Cypriot Greek (CG), of which Greek Cypriot is a native speaker. As can be accepted, the differences between the two varieties go far beyond the obvious aspects language such as vocabulary, pronunciation, and prosody. ...
... Participants were 38 CG-speaking children aged 5-9 years who completed a SRT as part of a larger study about diagnosis of SLI in CG (e.g., Theodorou and Grohmann, 2015;Theodorou et al., 2016). The children were divided into four groups. ...
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The clinical significance of sentence repetition tasks (SRTs) for assessing children's language ability is well-recognized. SRT has been identified as a good clinical marker for children with (specific) language impairment as it shows high diagnostic accuracy levels. Furthermore, qualitative analysis of repetition samples can provide information to be used for intervention protocols. Despite the fact that SRT is a familiar task in assessment batteries across several languages, it has not yet been measured and validated in bilectal settings, such as Cypriot Greek, where the need for an accurate screening tool is urgent. The aims of the current study are three-fold. First, the performance of a group of (Cypriot) Greek-speaking children identified with SLI is evaluated using a SRT that elicits complex morphosyntactic structures. Second, the accuracy level of the SRT for the identification of SLI is explored. Third, a broad error analysis is carried out to examine and compare the morphosyntactic abilities of the participating children. A total of 38 children aged 5–9 years participated in this study: a clinical group of children with SLI (n = 16) and a chronological age-matched control group (n = 22). The ability of the children to repeat complex morphosyntactic structures was assessed using a SRT consisting of 24 sentences. The results showed that the SRT yielded significant differences in terms of poorer performance of children with SLI compared to typically developing peers. The diagnostic accuracy of the task was validated, since regression analysis showed that the task is sensitive and specific enough to identify children with SLI. Finally, qualitative differences between children with SLI and those with TLD regarding morphosyntactic abilities were detected. This study showed that a SRT that elicits morphosyntactically complex structures could be a potential clinical indicator for SLI in Cypriot Greek. The task has the potential to be used as a referral criterion in order to identify children whose language needs to be evaluated further. Implications for speech–language therapists and policy-makers are discussed.
... As suggested by one of the reviewers, the occurrence of syncretisms within the clitic system of each language may also affect the possibility of cross-linguistic sharing of syntactic awareness in this domain. Furthermore, it should be noted that in general, the use of clitics is acquired earlier in Greek compared to Italian (see Grohmann et al., 2012;Theodorou & Grohmann, 2015; see also the discussion section on the effect of timing of acquisition on children's syntactic awareness abilities). ...
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Most studies on bilingual children’s metalinguistic awareness (MA) assess MA using monolingual tasks. This may not reflect how a bilingual’s languages dynamically interact with each other in the formation of metalinguistic representations. We tested 33 Greek-Italian bilingual children (8-11 years) in their MA using acceptability-rating tasks in which they had to judge and explain grammatical errors. The tasks were in a monolingual and bilingual mode, in order to show how far MA in Italian benefited from the activation of Greek. Participants exhibited better MA abilities in Italian in the bilingual acceptability-rating task, in which Greek was activated. The benefits of the bilingual mode were visible in the judgement and explanation of errors and were modulated by syntactic processing abilities in Italian, length of exposure to Italian, type of structure and age. The results show that MA can be shared across languages. The pedagogical implications of the study are discussed.
... To our knowledge, this is the first study that examines the language perception skills of Cypriot Greek children with DLD. Previous work has focused mostly on the children's production skills and was confined to grammar (e.g., Theodorou & Grohmann 2015;Kambanaros, 2014). Further research in Cypriot Greek speakers with DLD will not only allow us to provide better assessment and treatment to these speakers, but it will also let us know which difficulties are found only in Cypriot Greek and which are found in similar structures of other languages in an attempt to design an assessment tool that can be used in several languages. ...
Article
This study aims to investigate the perception of phonological, grammatical, and semantic structures by 8 children (age range: 8;2–9;5) with developmental language disorders (DLD). Another 8 age-matched (age range: 8;4–10;0) typically developing (TD) children served as controls. The results demonstrated that children with DLD had lower performance than children with TD in the phonology and grammar tests, corroborating earlier findings, which reported difficulties of children with DLD in discriminating voicing contrasts and perceiving grammatical structures. However, both groups had similar performance in the semantic test. The absence of semantic atypicality can be explained possibly due to the simplicity of the sentences included in the test. The study offers important clinical implications for the identification and treatment of the disorder.
... Interestingly, controversial results are reported by studies investigating clitic production in Greek-speaking children with DLD. Studies are reporting that children with DLD omit direct-object clitics [52,53] while others report no differences between children with DLD and TD peers in similar tasks [54][55][56]. Narratives have also been tested in Greek-speaking children and found to be effective in differentiating DLD children from TD [57]. The authors noted that narratives can indeed be a useful tool to identify and assess language-impaired children in the Greek language. ...
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Language and communication deficits characterize both autism spectrum disorder and developmental language disorder, and the possibility of there being a common profile of these is a matter of tireless debate in the research community. This experimental study addresses the relation of these two developmental conditions in the critical topic of language. Α total of 103 children (79 males, 24 females) participated in the present study. Specifically, the study's sample consisted of 40 children with autism, 28 children with developmental language disorder, and 35 typically developing children between 6 and 12 years old. All children completed language and cognitive measures. The results showed that there is a subgroup inside the autism group of children who demonstrate language difficulties similar to children with developmental language disorder. Specifically, two different subgroups were derived from the autism group; those with language impairment and those without. Both autism and language-impaired groups scored lower than typically developing children on all language measures indicating a common pathology in language ability. The results of this study shed light on the relation between the two disorders, supporting the assumption of a subgroup with language impairment inside the autism spectrum disorder population. The common picture presented by the two developmental conditions highlights the need for further research in the field.
... For all practical purposes, each child participant had typical language development (although we did not administer any language tests), with no recorded or reported history of neurological damage, emotional or behavioral problems, no obvious learning and motor difficulties, and with hearing and vision adequate for testing purposes, as reported by parents or teachers; none of the children received speech and language therapy services, neither during nor prior to the time of testing. These details were relevant for our research on atypical language development, especially the identification of specific language impairment (Theodorou 2013); the same tool administered to the typically developing children reported here was also carried out with language-impaired children (Theodorou and Grohmann 2015). ...
... Under their perspective, Romance languages show evidence of fragility in the use of prepositions, articles and clitic pronouns. Empirical research has, to a greater extent, dealt with some of these grammatical morphemes rather than with others, that is, there is more research on clitic pronouns (Jacobson and Schwartz 2002, Morgan et al. 2013, Restrepo and Gutiérrez-Clellen 2001, Theodorou and Grohmann 2015, Tuller et al. 2011) and articles (Auza and Morgan 2013a, Bedore and Leonard 2001, Bosch and Serra 1997, Chondrogianni and Marinis 2015, Leonard et al. 1992, Polite et al. 2011, Stavrakaki and van der Lely 2010, than on prepositions. ...
Article
Background Function words, and more specifically prepositions and prepositional locutions, are considered to be one of the most important difficulties for children with DLD. Aims To examine the capacity of bilingual children with developmental language disorder (DLD) to comprehend different Spanish prepositions and prepositional locutions in a simple sentence structure, for example, El gato está sobre la mesa/El gato está bajo la mesa (The cat is on the table/The cat is under the table). Methods & Procedures We used simple sentence structures to reduce lexical difficulties in order to focus our evaluation strictly on the grammatical morphemes under study. A total of 96 Spanish and Catalan‐speaking participants, divided into four groups, were evaluated in an eye‐tracking psycholinguistic experiment: 24 children with DLD (average age = 7.8 years, age range = 4.6–12.6), 24 children with the same chronological age (average age = 7.8 years, age range = 4.6–12.2), 24 children with the same linguistic level (average age = 6.8 years, age range = 4.6–9.4) and 24 adults (average age = 22.5 years, age range = 18–30). Outcomes & Results The empirical data show that, despite some differences, bilingual children with and without DLD can comprehend Spanish prepositions and prepositional locutions under the current experimental conditions. Conclusions & Implications Our results suggest that the capacity of bilingual children with DLD to comprehend Spanish prepositions and prepositional locutions in real time and within simple sentence structures is preserved. What this paper adds What is already known on the subject • The empirical literature indicates that children with DLD show important errors in the production of functional words in general, and prepositions in particular. However, unlike other grammatical morphemes (such as clitic pronouns and articles), prepositions have been less studied, and the few existing studies have focused on the dimension of language production, not comprehension. What this paper adds to existing knowledge • The present study, composed of two experimental tasks, seeks to determine to what extent the observable difficulty in the linguistic production of prepositions is also present in the comprehension of children with DLD. The empirical results suggest a less atypical comprehension in comparison with our initial hypothesis, and the differences that appear between the two tasks, allow us to formulate a theoretical interpretation regarding the mechanisms of their understanding. Thus far, we are not aware of other studies that have evaluated in real time the comprehension of prepositions and prepositional locutions in parallel. Clinical implications of this study • Results suggest the presence of a more preserved comprehension of prepositions and prepositional locutions, at least in real‐time experimental conditions (eye‐tracking) and in simple sentence structures. A less atypical comprehension raises the possibility of a better prognosis for children with DLD. Working with comprehension of simple sentences and the gradual addition of more difficult grammatical morphemes could help to enhance the comprehension of a growing complex grammar.
... The data below, taken from the study by Theodorou and Grohmann (2015), illustrate the relevant differences between the two varieties across different syntactic environments, starting with a declarative context in indicative mood. ...
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This paper examines the development of object clitic placement by children acquiring Cypriot Greek. Greek-speaking Cyprus is sociolinguistically characterized by diglossia between two varieties of Greek, the local Cypriot Greek and the official Standard Modern Greek. Arguably as a result of this situation, clitics may be placed post- (enclisis) or preverbally (proclisis) in the same syntactic environment; while the former is a property of Cypriot Greek, the latter is typically considered an effect of the standard language. The following issues are investigated here: (a) how such bilectal speakers distinguish between the two Greek varieties with respect to clitic placement; (b) how the acquisition of clitics develops over time; (c) how, and which, sociolinguistic factors determine clitic placement; and (d) how schooling may affect clitic placement. To address (a)–(d), a sentence completion task was used to elicit clitic productions, administered to 431 children around Cyprus ranging from 2;8 to 8;11. The C5.0 machine- learning algorithm was employed to model the interaction of (socio-)linguistic factors on the development of clitic placement. The model shows that speakers acquire the relevant features very early, yet compartmentalization of form and function according to style emerges only as they engage in the larger speech community. In addition, the effects of sociolinguistic factors on clitic placement appear gradually.
... These authors showed that for the grammatical marking of tense, a language-impaired subgroup of children with ASD (aged 8-9) 85 suffered from an even more pronounced difficulty than an SLI group in the same age range (taken from Rice, Wexler & Cleave 1995). The difference in reports may stem from the distinct IQ levels of the 1 In other languages, it is not the actual production of clitics that is problematic, as reported for French, but rather clitic misplacement (see Theodorou & Grohmann 2015). ...
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This study investigates syntax in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), its parallelism with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) and its relation to other aspects of cognition. We focus on (1) 3rd person accusative clitic (ACC3) production, a clinical marker of SLI hypothesized to relate to WM, and (2) 1st person accusative clitic (ACC1) production, preserved in SLI but hypothesized to be affected in ASD due to Theory-of-Mind (ToM) difficulties. Participants included 21 individuals with ASD (aged 5-16), 22 individuals with SLI (aged 5-16), age-matched and younger TD controls (N = 44). Clinical groups showed similar deficits for ACC3 and general morphosyntax. Closer analysis revealed that a subgroup of children with ASD displayed intact grammar except for ACC1, where children with SLI performed well. Better ToM scores implied better ACC1 scores in ASD. Difficulties with WM emerged for ASD and SLI and correlated only with performance on ACC3. Non-verbal reasoning was unrelated to syntactic measures.
Article
Children with developmental language disorder (DLD) are characterised by impaired language abilities both in comprehension and production. Complex syntax is a specific domain which is often considered challenging for children with DLD. Research regarding complex syntax is mostly concerned with the production patterns of speakers and usually employs English-speaking populations. This scoping review aims to systematically map the abilities of non-English-speaking children with DLD to comprehend complex syntactic structures, comparing these results with the broader literature on English-speaking children with DLD. It also aims to consider the account (i.e. grammatical vs processing) by which these abilities can be explained. Four online databases were used to extract original research articles published between 2011 and 2021. Of the 264 studies initially identified, 20 studies were included in the review. The results demonstrated that children with DLD present with difficulties in comprehending object relative clauses, wh-questions, sentences with non-canonical word order, passives, and other types of complex syntax. All of these challenges are also evident in English-speaking children with DLD and can be mainly attributed either to the inability of children to assign thematic roles, their restricted working memory capacities, or a combination thereof. It is concluded that the comprehension of complex syntax might be a universal marker of DLD, which can be explained on the basis of either a grammatical or a processing account, or both. Common challenges in certain structures across languages can be used to design a comprehension assessment tool that can be applied in several languages.
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This paper investigates the acquisition of clitics by Yemeni Arabic children. It looks at the acquisition of proclitics (affixes attached at the beginning of the word) and enclitics (affixes attached at the end of the word). The study examines the language of four children aged 1;8, 2;3, 2;8 and 2;11. It concludes that children seem to start acquiring enclitics prior to proclitics. The paper also considers the different repair strategies – certain phonological processes – that children resort to in order to compensate for the (adult's) input-output mismatches.
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Grammatical markers are not uniformly impaired across speakers of different languages, even when speakers share a diagnosis and the marker in question is grammaticalized in a similar way in these languages. The aim of this work is to demarcate, from a cross-linguistic perspective, the linguistic phenotype of three genetically heterogeneous developmental disorders: specific language impairment, Down syndrome, and autism spectrum disorder. After a systematic review of linguistic profiles targeting mainly English-, Greek-, Catalan-, and Spanish-speaking populations with developmental disorders (n = 880), shared loci of impairment are identified and certain domains of grammar are shown to be more vulnerable than others. The distribution of impaired loci is captured by the Locus Preservation Hypothesis which suggests that specific parts of the language faculty are immune to impairment across developmental disorders. Through the Locus Preservation Hypothesis, a classical chicken and egg question can be addressed: Do poor conceptual resources and memory limitations result in an atypical grammar or does a grammatical breakdown lead to conceptual and memory limitations? Overall, certain morphological markers reveal themselves as highly susceptible to impairment, while syntactic operations are preserved, granting support to the first scenario. The origin of resilient syntax is explained from a phylogenetic perspective in connection to the “syntax-before-phonology” hypothesis.
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This cross-sectional study investigates the acquisition of the interpretation of syntactic and semantic aspects of wh -questions by Cypriot Greek-speaking children aged 4 to 9 years. Two experimental tools were employed, a question–picture-matching task examining the comprehension of D-linked and non-D-linked questions for subject and object, and a question-after-picture task examining the comprehension of the notion of exhaustivity in single and multiple wh -questions. The results from these experiments are interpreted in light of current theoretical advances and cross-linguistic comparisons. The apparent discrepancies found in the development of Greek Cypriot children’s comprehension of wh -questions and exhaustivity are put in perspective with their particular linguistic environment – diglossia, in which children grow up with two varieties, Cypriot Greek and Standard Modern Greek. Keywords: bilectalism; D(iscourse)-linking; first language acquisition; multiple wh-questions; single wh-questions
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This article explores the nuances in the type of diglossic society in Cyprus towards a characterization of the precise stage of diglossic progression that accurately describes the current sociolinguistic state of Greek-speaking Cyprus. The question concerns the identification of that status as diglossic, as standardwith-dialects (social dialectia), or as bidialectal. We propose that the society can be characterized as diglossic, likely moving towards diaglossia. The term co-overt prestige is also introduced here, juxtaposed both with canonical Bourdieuan overt prestige and with the concept of covert prestige (Trudgill 1972), a juxtaposition which drives the classification. This article also puts forth the notion of (discrete) bilectalism to capture the “linguality” of Greek Cypriot speakers, that is, bilectal in the local vernacular, the L variety (Cypriot Greek), and the superposed official language, the H variety (Standard Modern Greek), thereby refuting the notion of a continuum bridging the two varieties. The case is also made here that studying language acquisition and development in diglossic societies contributes to a better understanding of discrete linguistic systems in children and fully developed speakers alike.
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In this paper, a full account of clitic positioning in Cypriot Greek is attempted within the framework of Dynamic Syntax. Firstly, it is shown that the existing approaches dealing with CG clitic positioning are inadequate to deal with the full range of clitic positioning phenomena as these are described by Pappas (2010) and Chatzikyriakidis (2010). Then it is argued that this complex system can be effectively captured assuming a lexical entry where three generalized parsing strategies, i.e. ways of structure building, function as lexical triggers for parsing CG clitics. Variation in positioning with the non-factive complementizer oti as well as the causal subordinator epidi are accounted for assuming that these elements can be parsed as either subordinators or coordinators. Furthermore, the challenge of providing an account for complex markers/subordinators formed with the coordinator tze is provided, arguing that the unexpected enclisis caused in these cases is due to the fact that these elements provide two separate linked domains where the first acts as the context in which the second is parsed (e.g. a negative context). Lastly, the account proposed will be shown to be grounded in historical considerations as well, arguing that the transition from a descriptively simpler system (that of Medieval Cypriot Greek, MCG) to a more complex one (CG) is only epiphenomenal, showing that the transition from MCG to CG involves simplification of the lexical entry for clitics.
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Object clitics are not uniformly acquired across languages; French-, Italian, Catalan- speaking TD children show late acquisition of clitics, omission and a preference for using full DPs in contrast to Spanish-, Romanian- and Greek-speaking ones. This variation has been explained through the Optional Clitic stage (Wexler 2003), which results from the interaction of a universal developmental constraint, the Unique Checking Constraint (Wexler, 2000), with syntactic properties of particular languages. Given that children with SLI follow the same but delayed path to language acquisition as their TD peers (Rice et al., 1995), they are subject to UCC for a prolonged period (Wexler 2003). The results of our elicitation task, the first experimental test of clitic omission in Greek SLI, show ceiling performance in clitic production and give support to UCC and theories in which the impairment lies in the computational system rather than in a phonological deficit.
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In this paper we investigate developmental properties of direct object clitics across languages, in particular the status of clitic omission in child Greek. Our focus is whether clitic omission is a universal stage that all children speaking a clitic language go through or this holds only for some languages. If the later is the case (as clearly stated in the title) then the question is how we can account for these differences among clitic languages. The theory we are developing here is a further attempt to unify universal properties of development across constructions, including object positions as well as subject positions (see Wexler, to appear). In particular, by unifying the Optional Infinitive (OI) stage with the Clitic Omission Stage (ClO), we are able to explain the apparent variation in the development of pronominal clitics across languages by showing that this variation can be accounted for, if we adopt the same assumptions that are needed in order to explain the facts of the Optional Infinitive stage; that is, the interaction of a universal developmental constraint (the Unique Checking Constraint) with the particular syntactic properties of types of languages. There are several hypotheses in the literature concerning which aspects of grammar cause the omission of object clitics, including difficulties in forming A- chains (Guasti 1993/94, extending Borer and Wexler's 1987 work on maturation of A-chains), or children's inability to always form a full-fledged clausal structure, i.e. truncated clause structure (Hamann, Rizzi and Frauenfelder, 1996; Haegeman 1996), or problems in coping with Multiple Spell-Out operations (Avram 2000). We do not have space here to show why each of these proposals is inadequate, but simply note that none of them can explain the cross-linguistic variation in omission that we discuss. Our proposal, following Wexler (to appear) and Wexler, Gavarro and Torrens (2003), is that clitic omission and its cross-linguistic variation stem from some universal principle that prevents children from carrying out certain computational processes of syntax, namely the Unique Checking Constraint, that applies to the Grammar as a whole and allows children to accept and produce ungrammatical constructions. Therefore, under this view, clitic omission results from constraints that are principles in children's grammar and not imperfections. Basically, children's grammar is more highly constrained than adult grammar.
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In this article, we focus on an exceptional instance of nonadult positioning of clitics in early Cypriot Greek and Cypriot Greek with specific language impairment (SLI). We attribute misplaced clitics to children's incomplete knowledge concerning properties of the inflectional (Infl) particles, which interact in crucial ways with finite V(erb) movement to M(ood). We claim that children perceive Infl particles as phrasal specifiers or adjuncts, unable to check the V-features of M, hence perform V-to-M movement even in their presence, and clitics emerge in (nonadult) postverbal position, giving the impression that they have been misplaced. We point out that functional heads seem to be perceived as phrasal in other early languages and possibly also in domains other than Infl, and we explain why clitics are not found misplaced in standard Greek and standard Romance, with the exception of Portuguese. Finally, the absence of qualitative differences between the early populations and populations with SLI we studied corroborates with views that consider SLI a language delay, but the degree to which quantitative differences were attested raises questions.
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Based on an analysis of natural production data, I show that Italian children, at a young age, distinguish between finite and infinitival verbs. The evidence comes from the distribution of these two classes of verbs and from the placement of clitic (atonic) pronouns. I argue that, from the earliest stages, Italian children have knowledge of the verbal agreement system, a claim supported by a quantitative analysis of the verbal agreement paradigm. These results— evaluated in the framework of the principles and parameters theory of grammar —are naturally interpreted as evidence that the initial structure of children's sentences includes functional categories, specifically the Inflectional Phrase.
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We report three experiments concerning English-speaking children's knowledge of locality conditions in the binding of reflexives and pronouns (Principles A and B). The children tested were between the ages of 2;6 and 6;6. By age 6, children know that a reflexive must be locally bound. At the same age, however, they appear to not know that a pronoun may not be locally bound. We suggest that children are missing a pragmatic principle, not the syntactic Principle B. This hypothesis predicts that children will not accept a local antecedent for a pronoun that is a bound variable. Experiment 4 confirms this prediction. We conclude that children know the grammatical principles of binding but do not know a relevant pragmatic principle. We suggest that such dissociation in children might be a useful tool in the study of linguistic theory.
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We report on object and action picture-naming accuracy in two groups of bilectal speakers in Cyprus, children with typical language development (TLD) and children with specific language impairment (SLI). Object names were overall better retrieved than action names by both groups. Given that comprehension for action names was relatively intact for all children, this finding is taken to be the result of a breakdown at the interface of the semantic lexicon and phonological representations, or access to them. The results complement similar research on English, a minimally inflected language in contrast to Greek. Overall, cross-linguistic word class effects provide strong evidence for the hypothesis that grammatical category is an organizing principle shared across languages. Finally, our results suggest that bilectal children with SLI present with general lexical delay rather than a deficit in verb naming per se.
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In this paper we set out to substantiate by reference to two closely related languages, Catalan and Spanish, the claim that object clitic omission in child grammar has a non-accidental correlation with participle agreement. We argue that the correlation follows from the fact that in participle agreement languages objects need to double check with two functional projections; this double checking is at the source of clitic omission, following Wexler's (1998, to appear) Unique Checking Constraint (UCC). Catalan and Spanish constitute a relevant term of reference as their grammars are very similar except that Catalan is a participle agreement language while Spanish is not. Therefore, if our assumptions on participle agreement are correct, the UCC leads us to expect differences between the two in object clitic omission in child language development. According as our expectations are born out, we are able to claim that variation in the development of the two languages under scrutiny can be accounted for on the grounds of a universal principle, the UCC, together with the parroquial properties of the languages the child is exposed to. 1. Basic assumptions: clitics and the UCC
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Previous evidence shows that nouns are easier for many language users to retrieve than verbs, but scant research has been conducted with children in bilectal environments (where both standard and non-standard forms of a language are spoken). This study investigates object and action naming in children who are native speakers of a non-standard variety, Cypriot Greek (CG), but instructed scholastically in the official variety, Standard Modern Greek (SMG). Participants were typically developing Greek Cypriot preschoolers and early school-aged children who completed the Cypriot Object and Action Test (COAT). Results revealed a significant grammatical word class effect favoring nouns over verbs in Modern Greek, with a developmental change in the size of the noun–verb gap. Both age groups showed similar error patterns for both object and action targets. For action names, children produced more semantic descriptions or circumlocutions (e.g., hitting the nail for hammering), whereas omissions were the prominent error type for object names. The findings are discussed in relation to cross-linguistic evidence of grammatical word class differences using the picture naming paradigm for monolingual (pre)school-aged children.
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A common profile among specifically-language-impaired (SLI) children acquiring English is a mild to moderate deficit in a range of language areas (lexicon, syntax) and a more serious deficit in morphology. There are several possible accounts of these children's extraordinary difficulty with morphology. In this investigation, we examined the possibility that the features necessary for morphology, such as person and number, are absent from the underlying grammars of SLI children. We approached this question by examining the morphology of both Italian-speaking and English-speaking SLI children, as well as that of two types of control children, one matched according to age, the other according to mean length of utterance. The results suggested that an assumption of features missing from the underlying grammar is not warranted for the children studied here.
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The investigation longitudinally examined the phonetic skills of Cypriot-Greek children with late onset of expressive vocabulary. The rate of phonological development within short time increments and the identification of possible speech constraints motivating slow development of expressive language were examined. Participants were seven Cypriot-Greek children identified as late talkers, and seven age-matched normally developing counterparts. Phonetic skills were examined at ages 30, 33, and 36 months for both groups based on spontaneous language samples. Phonological analyses focused on the construction of all subjects' phonetic inventories over time. Both groups exhibited an increase of specific phoneme use over time. Late talkers had significantly poorer phonetic inventories when compared to the control group. Within the experimental group the analysis revealed the persistent omission of word-initial consonants. Results are discussed in terms of language-specific phonological constraints and their relation to slow development of speech.
Chapter
“Specific language impairment” (SLI) is a term applied to children who show significant deficits in language learning ability but age-appropriate scores on non-verbal tests of intelligence, normal hearing, and no clear evidence of neurological impairment. Children who meet this definition are not identical in their characteristics, though some linguistic profiles are rather common. Boys outnumber girls, with a ratio of approximately 2.8 to 1 (Robinson, 1987). At age five years, the prevalence of SLI might be as high as 7% (Tomblin, 1996). This percentage is probably lower at older ages, due to the fact that some proportion of children with milder language difficulties achieve normal levels of ability within a few years, often with the help of intervention.
Article
This study was designed to investigate metaphoric understanding and its relationship to a cognitive task of combinatorial reasoning in preadolescent children (x age =10:7) who were diagnosed as language impaired during their preschool years. Although the children performed as well as a group of normal preadolescents (x age =10:8) on certain tests involving literal aspects of language and on a nonverbal intelligence test, they were deficient in their understanding of metaphoric sentences and in performing the cognitive task. This result suggested that children who as preschoolers exhibit difficulty in acquiring language may at a later time have difficulty dealing with figurative aspects of language. Research implications are discussed.
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Clinicians are confronted with a wide range of norm-referenced tests designed to evaluate preschool language skills. This article approaches test selection from a data-based perspective. Twenty-one tests of language skills that included norms for children ages 4 and 5 years were reviewed for information on 10 psychometric criteria. Only 38% of these tests met half or more of the 10 psychometric criteria employed by McCauley and Swisher (1984a) in their review. Four tests that met a relatively high number of psychometric criteria (6 or more) were administered to 20 preschool children with specific language impairment and 20 age-matched controls. High interexaminer reliability was obtained for all tests. All tests had low correlations with a measure of nonverbal skills. Only one of the four tests provided acceptable accuracy in discriminating between the children with normal and the children with impaired language in our sample. Our empirical examination of four tests revealed that even tests that pass relatively high numbers of psychometric criteria may not be precise discriminators of normal and impaired language in 4- and 5-year-old children, indicating the need to complement psychometric review with data-based validation procedures.
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In this paper, we review the basic morphosyntactic and phonological properties of object clitic pronouns in Standard Greek. More specifically, we discuss the constraints on the combinatorial properties of clitic clusters and present evidence in support of the out-of-cycle adjunct status of clitic-doubled DP-objects. We then account for the distribution of object clitics with respect to the verb by means of a cliticization movement rule. Finally, we show that there is an asymmetry in the way object clitics are prosodically organized, depending on their position in relation to the verb. Being always a part of the phonological word of their verbal host, enclitics choose to incorporate to it whereas proclitics opt for prosodic adjunction.
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This paper is a study of clitic placement in Cypriot Greek (CGr) fmite clauses.2 Its primary purpose is to provide a systematic description of the positions in which pronominal clitics surface in CGr, compare them with the counterpart structures of Standard Greek (SGr), and attempt to offer a formal account of the differences in clitic positioning between the two varieties. It will be shown that the ban on first position clitics that CGr demonstrates is unlike that manifested by the Slavic (the sometimes-called Wackernagel) languages. Rather, the environments from which CGr pronominal clitics are excluded are similar, although not identical, to those of Portuguese and Galician.3 A central claim that will be advanced is that clitics adjoin to a functional head that occupies the same position in the clausal structure in both CGr and SGr; the fact that they often surface in a different position in each variety is seen as the result of the overt movement which the fmite verb undergoes in CGr. I consider M0 (the head of M(ood) P(hrase)) as the landing site of fmite verb movement and conjecture that V-to-M movement is related to the licensing requirements of CGr clitics which, unlike those of their SGr counterparts, have to be satisfied before spell-out.
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In this article I argue in favor of a parameter ordering Spec VP with respect to V. After dealing with some adult phenomena, the study concentrates on early child French. Adopting Spec VP as the basic subject position, I show that some particular restrictions imposed on French Stylistic Inversion can be derived by assuming Spec VP to be right branching; these restrictions then follow from the typical linear adjacency requirement on Case assignment under government. Developmental data provide robust evidence for the right-branching Spec VP hypothesis, as children at around 2 years massively produce VOS utterances (and never VSO). Other sequences of constituents (e.g., (negation) - V[-finite]-subject) are also shown to favor a right-branching Spec VP hypothesis. The differences between the child and adult systems are treated as follows: The adjacency requirement is not compulsory at the relevant developmental stage, and the availability of an empty category to fill Spec IP is generalized. Finally, related points, such as conceivable triggers for parameter setting and cross-linguistic evidence for the hypothesis advanced, are discussed in some detail.
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Nine Greek preschool children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) were compared to age-matched (CA) and language-matched (LA) typically-developing children on their production of a) third person object clitic pronouns, b) definite articles and c) genitive possessive clitics, through novel picture-based elicitation tasks. The aims were to examine whether these structures are impaired in Greek SLI, and whether the findings can be explained by domain-general or domain-specific accounts of SLI (Surface Hypothesis (SH) Leonard 1989; Interpretability Hypothesis (IH), Tsimpli & Stavrakaki 1999; Representational Deficit for Dependent Relations (RDDR), van der Lely 1998). The findings revealed a particular impairment on object clitics in the SLI group, evidenced by a significantly lower rate of correct responses and higher omission rates compared to both control groups; a relatively higher performance on definite articles, on which the SLI group differed from only the CA group; and no impairment on genitive possessive clitics. The findings are partially consistent with those of previous studies in Greek SLI. None of the accounts reviewed could fully account for the pattern of deficits. An alternative proposal combining the notions of interpretability and movement is proposed instead.
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Previous studies have established a correlation beween early clitic omission and the existence of past participle agreement, explainable with a maturational constraint - the UCC. Since Portuguese doesn't show past participle agreement, it is expected that portuguese children will produce clitics early on. I order to find out whether this correlation holds for Portuguese, an experimental study was conducted reproducing Schaeffer's 1997 and adapting it to particular properties of Portuguese - the availability of null objects and variability of clitic position. The results of this study suggest that Portuguese children do omit clitics, apparently contradicting previous studies. Since clitic omission lasts until later than in other languages, we hypothesize that the explanation may rely on complexity factors.
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This article presents the results of an investigation on elicited production and comprehension of determiners and clitic pronouns by 13 French-speaking children with specific language impairment (SLI) ages 5;7 to 13;0 years and a group of 20 normal children ages 5;6 to 5;11 years. Out findings show that the children with SLI studied here do not present a general impairment on functional categories or a general deficit in processing phonological weak elements. On the contrary, they all remain sensitive to the fundamental difference between determiners (Det and clitic pronouns. Their accuracy with respect to nominative and object clitic pronouns (reflexive and accusative) varies according to the categorial and syntactic properties of these elements. These findings confirm out linguistic analysis of Romance clitic pronouns that attributes a different status to Der and clitic pronouns and further views clitic pronouns as a nonhomogeneous class.
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Omission of functional categories by children with specific language impairment (SLI) is often viewed as a manifestation of the same immaturity characterizing young normal children's grammar. In this article we present and discuss data that challenge this view: atypically high omissions or even almost total absence of determiners in the speech productions of a group of 11 Italian children affected by either expressive/receptive (7) or expressive-only (4) SLI. We show that this pattern of omissions is in contrast with mean length of utterance matched normal controls' behavior and is not predicted by the level of morphosyntactic knowledge (which includes control of many functional categories) reached by the children with SLI in the group. This rather peculiar dissociation calls into question some special properties of determiners. We take into consideration two possible explanations (which may correlate with differences in deficit type): (i) a deeply rooted learning deficit and (ii) difficulties or problems in the output mechanisms. We argue that in either case the source of the deficit has to be sought in the non-accessibility to or in the misappreciation of one fundamental syntactic property of determiners: their role of elements that assign argumenthood to nominal expressions (Longobardi (1994-), Szabolcsi (1917). This conclusion, besides supporting recent theoretical accounts of determiner phrases, has some intriguing implications for a global characterization and identification of the grammatical locus of SLI.