Productivity of Emerging Word Combinations in Toddlers With Specific Expressive Language Impairment This study investigated whether young children with specific expressive language impairment (SELI) learn to combine words according to general positional rules or specific, grammatic relation rules. The language of 20 children with SELI (4 females, 16 males, mean age of 33 months, mean MLU of 1.34) was sampled weekly for ... Research Article
Research Article  |   November 01, 1997
Productivity of Emerging Word Combinations in Toddlers With Specific Expressive Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Steven H. Long
    Case Western Reserve University
  • Lesley B. Olswang
    University of Washington
  • Julianne Brian
    University of Washington
  • Philip S. Dale
    University of Washington
  • Contact author: Steven H. Long, PhD, Department of Communication Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, 11206 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH 44106. Email: sxl12@po.cwru.edu
Article Information
Development / Language Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Research Articles
Research Article   |   November 01, 1997
Productivity of Emerging Word Combinations in Toddlers With Specific Expressive Language Impairment
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 1997, Vol. 6, 34-47. doi:10.1044/1058-0360.0604.34
History: Received March 4, 1997 , Accepted July 16, 1997
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 1997, Vol. 6, 34-47. doi:10.1044/1058-0360.0604.34
History: Received March 4, 1997; Accepted July 16, 1997

This study investigated whether young children with specific expressive language impairment (SELI) learn to combine words according to general positional rules or specific, grammatic relation rules. The language of 20 children with SELI (4 females, 16 males, mean age of 33 months, mean MLU of 1.34) was sampled weekly for 9 weeks. Sixteen of these children also received treatment for two-word combinations (agent+action or possessor+possession). Two different metrics were used to determine the productivity of combinatorial utterances. One metric assessed productivity based on positional consistency alone; another assessed productivity based on positional and semantic consistency. Data were analyzed session-by-session as well as cumulatively. The results suggest that these children learned to combine words according to grammatic relation rules. Results of the session-by-session analysis were less informative than those of the cumulative analysis. For children with SELI ready to make the transition to multiword utterances, these findings support a cumulative method of data collection and a treatment approach that targets specific grammatic relation rules rather than general word combinations.

Author Note
This research was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, Grant #R29-DC00431, Predicting the Benefits of Treatment. The completion of this paper was supported by a Fulbright Scholarship awarded to Dr. Olswang during 1994– 1995, The Fulbright Commission, London, England. The authors wish to thank Barbara Bain, Glenn Johnson, and Pamela Crooke for participating in data collection, coding, and reliability. Portions of this paper were presented at the Symposium of Research in Child Language Disorders, University of Wisconsin-Madison, June 1994.
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