Children's Marking of Verbal –s by Nonmainstream English Dialect and Clinical Status Purpose Children's marking of verbal –s was examined by their dialect (African American English [AAE] vs. Southern White English [SWE]) and clinical status (specific language impairment [SLI] vs. typically developing [TD]) and as a function of 4 linguistic variables (verb regularity, negation, expression of a habitual activity, and expression of ... Research Article
Research Article  |   November 01, 2013
Children's Marking of Verbal –s by Nonmainstream English Dialect and Clinical Status
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Lesli H. Cleveland
    Eastern Washington University, Cheney
  • Janna B. Oetting
    Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
  • Correspondence to Lesli H. Cleveland: lcleveland@ewu.edu
  • Editor: Carol Scheffner Hammer
    Editor: Carol Scheffner Hammer×
  • Associate Editor: Nicole Terry
    Associate Editor: Nicole Terry×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Research Articles
Research Article   |   November 01, 2013
Children's Marking of Verbal –s by Nonmainstream English Dialect and Clinical Status
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2013, Vol. 22, 604-614. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2013/12-0122)
History: Received September 18, 2012 , Revised January 28, 2013 , Accepted May 14, 2013
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2013, Vol. 22, 604-614. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2013/12-0122)
History: Received September 18, 2012; Revised January 28, 2013; Accepted May 14, 2013
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1

Purpose Children's marking of verbal –s was examined by their dialect (African American English [AAE] vs. Southern White English [SWE]) and clinical status (specific language impairment [SLI] vs. typically developing [TD]) and as a function of 4 linguistic variables (verb regularity, negation, expression of a habitual activity, and expression of historical present tense).

Method The data were language samples from 57 six-year-olds who varied by their dialect and clinical status (AAE: SLI = 14, TD = 12; SWE: SLI = 12, TD = 19).

Results The AAE groups produced lower rates of marking than did the SWE groups, and the SWE SLI group produced lower rates of marking than did the SWE TD group. Although low numbers of verb contexts made it difficult to evaluate the linguistic variables, there was evidence of their influence, especially for verb regularity and negation. The direction and magnitude of the effects were often (but not always) consistent with what has been described in the adult dialect literature.

Conclusion Verbal –s can be used to help distinguish children with and without SLI in SWE but not in AAE. Clinicians can apply these findings to other varieties of AAE and SWE and other dialects by considering rates of marking and the effects of linguistic variables on marking.

Acknowledgments
This study was completed as part of the first author's doctoral dissertation, but some analyses were redone or narrowed to increase accuracy and improve readability. We thank the children, parents, and school personnel who participated in the study; the graduate students who collected, transcribed, and coded the language samples; and the doctoral students, Kyomi Gregory, Ryan Lee, Jessica Richardson, Andrew Rivère, Christy Seidel, and Tina Villa, who along with Brandi Newkirk-Turner, Sonja Pruitt-Lord, and Melanie Schuele, provided feedback on an earlier draft of this article.
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