Prototypical tense-aspect alignment and the tense deficit in the spontaneous speech of Spanish-speaking children with SLI

John Grinstead, Paij Lintz, Juliana De La Mora, Myriam Cantú-Sánchez, Blanca Flores

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    1 Citation (Scopus)


    © 2016 by De Gruyter Mouton. The Aspect-First Hypothesis observes that children tend to associate the lexical semantics of predicates with grammatical aspect marking and tense, and children with SLI are known to have problems with tense. A theoretical question raised by these facts is whether the SLI difficulty with tense is limited to morphosyntax, or whether it extends to the lexical semantics implicated in the Aspect-First phenomenon as well. In previous work, children with SLI have been less consistent than controls in their Aspect-First prototypical tense-aspect groupings. In the current project, we study the spontaneous production data of 38 five-year-old monolingual Spanish-speakers in Mexico, half of whom are diagnosed with SLI and half of whom are age-matched controls. We coded the spontaneous production of each child's 20- to 30-minute language sample for tense, grammatical aspect and lexical aspect to determine: (1) whether each group followed Aspect-First prototypical tense-aspect groupings and (2) whether children in the SLI and TD groups were different from one another in their tense-aspect distributions. Children in both groups appeared to follow the Aspect-First prototypes, in contrast to comprehension findings. SLI children were not significantly different from TD children in their distribution of predicates, as a function of tense and lexical aspect, contra elicited production results from English. Results are discussed in terms of methodological and comprehension-production differences.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)145-163
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


    • aspect first
    • optional infinitives
    • prototypes
    • SLI
    • Spanish


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