Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Elicitation of the passé composé in French preschoolers with and without specific language impairment


This study examines inflectional abilities in French-speaking children with specific language impairment (SLI) using a verb elicitation task. Eleven children with SLI and age-matched controls (37–52 months) participated in the experiment. We elicited the passé composé using eight regular and eight irregular high frequency verbs matched for age of acquisition. Children with SLI showed dissimilar productive verb inflection abilities to control children (even when comparing participants with similar verb vocabularies and mean length of utterance in words). Control children showed evidence of overregularization and sensitivity to morphological structure, whereas no such effects were observed in the SLI group. Error patterns observed in the SLI group demonstrate that, at this age, they cannot produce passé composé forms in elicitation tasks, even though some participants used them spontaneously. Either context by itself might therefore be insufficient to fully evaluate productive linguistic abilities in children with SLI.

Corresponding author
ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Phaedra Royle, Université de Montréal, Faculté de Médecine, École d'orthophonie et d'audiologie, C.P. 6128, Succursale Centre-Ville, Montréal, Québec H3C 3J7, Canada. E-mail:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

D. Bassano , I. Maillochon , S. Klampfer , & W. U. Dressler (2001). L'acquisition de la morphologie verbale en français et en allemand autrichien: II. L'épreuve des faits. Enfance, 53 117148.

L. M. Bedore , & L. B. Leonard (2001). Grammatical morphology deficits in Spanish-speaking children with specific language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research, 44, 905924.

J. Bybee (1995). Regular morphology and the lexicon. Language and Cognitive Processes, 10, 425455.

H. Clahsen , & M. Almazan (1998). Syntax and morphology in Williams syndrome. Cognition, 68, 167198.

J. Franck , S. Cronel-Ohayon , L. Chillier , U. H. Frauenfelder , C. Hamann , L. Rizzi , et al. (2004). Normal and pathological development of subject–verb agreement in speech production: A study on French children. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 17, 147180.

M. Gopnik (1999). Familial language impairment: More English evidence. Folia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica, 51, 519.

C. Jakubovicz , & L. Nash (2001). Functional categories and syntactic operations in (ab) normal language acquisition. Brain and Language, 77, 321339.

L. B. Leonard , U. Bortolini , M. C. Caselli , K. K. McGregor & L. Sabbadini (1992). Morphological deficits in children with specific language impairment: The status of features in the underlying grammar. Language Acquisition, 2, 151179.

L. B. Leonard , J. Eyer , L. Bedore & B. Grela (1997). Three accounts of the grammatical morpheme difficulties of English-speaking children with specific language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 40, 741753.

G. F. Marcus , S. Pinker , M. Ullman , M. Hollander , T. J. Rosen , & F. Xu (1992). Overregularization in language acquisition. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 57 (4, Serial No. 228).

B. New , C. Pallier , L. Ferrand , & R. Matos (2001). Une base de données lexicales du français contemporain sur internet: LEXIQUE. L'Année Psychologique, 101, 447462 (

J. Paradis , & M. Crago (2001). The morphosyntax of specific language impairment in French: An extended optional default account. Language Acquisition, 9, 269300.

M. Rice , K. Wexler , & P. L. Cleave (1995). Specific language impairment as a period of extended optional infinitive. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 38, 850863.

P. Royle (2007). Variable effects of morphology and frequency on inflection patterns in French preschoolers. The Mental Lexicon Journal, 2, 103125.

P. Royle , G. Jarema , & E. Kehayia (2002a). Auditory verb recognition in developmental language impairment. Brain and Language, 81, 487500.

P. Royle , G. Jarema , & E. Kehayia (2003). Verb reading in developmental language impairment. Brain and Language, 87, 311322.

E. T. Thordardottir (2005). Early lexical and syntactic development in Quebec French and English: Implications for cross-linguistic and bilingual assessment. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 40, 243278

E. T. Thordardottir , & M. Namazi (2007). Specific language impairment in French-speaking children: Beyond grammatical morphology. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 50, 698715.

H. K. J. van der Lely , & M. T. Ullman (2001). Past tense morphology in specifically language impaired and normally developing children. Language & Cognitive Processes, 16, 177217.

M. T. Ullman , & M. Gopnik (1999). Inflectional morphology in a family with inherited specific language impairment. Applied Psycholinguistics, 20, 51117.

K. Wexler (1998). Very early parameter setting and the unique checking constraint: A new explanation of the optional infinitive stage. Lingua, 106, 2379.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Applied Psycholinguistics
  • ISSN: 0142-7164
  • EISSN: 1469-1817
  • URL: /core/journals/applied-psycholinguistics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *