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Indicators of linguistic competence in the peer group conversational behavior of mildly retarded adults1

  • Sheldon Rosenberg (a1) and Leonard Abbeduto (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 28 November 2008

Samples of the communicative behavior of a group of higher-level mentally retarded adults engaged in conversation with peers were examined for indications of mature linguistic competence, specifically, grammatical morpheme and complex sentence use. The findings confirmed the expectation that the eventual level of mastery of these aspects of linguistic competence in higher-level retarded individuals is relatively high. Evidence for a normal developmental progression in the mastery of the grammatical morphemes was also forthcoming. In an analysis of individual complex sentence structures, no relationship was found between relative frequency of use of different types of complex sentences and presumed order of acquisition. However, subjects' ability to combine complex sentences did appear to be related to the presumed order of acquisition, although other factors may have also contributed to this relationship. Unexpectedly, a significant negative correlation was observed between relative frequency of complex sentence use and an estimate of conversational communicative competence. A possible reason for this finding was discussed.

Corresponding author
Sheldon Rosenberg, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Box 4348, Chicago, Illinois 60680
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The present research was supported in part by funds from Grant HD 10321, National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, Professor Gershon Berkson, principal investigator, and from the Illinois Institute for Developmental Disabilities, Professor Arnold Sameroff, research director. The authors are indebted to Professors Berkson and Sameroff for their interest in this research

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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.

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R. Brown (1973). A first language: The early stages. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

R. Dever (1972). A comparison of the results of a revised version of Berko's test of morphology with the free speech of mentally retarded children. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 15, 169178.

E. W. Katz , & S. B. Brent (1968). Understanding connectives. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 7, 501509.

R. C. Naremore , & R. Dever (1975). Language performance of educable mentally retarded and normal children at five age levels. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 18, 8295.

M. U. Newfield , & B. B. Schlanger (1968). The acquisition of English morphology by normal and educable mentally retarded children. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 11, 693706.

D. S. Palermo , & D. L. Molfese (1972). Language acquisition from age five onward. Psychological Bulletin, 78, 409428.

S. Rosenberg (1982). The language of the mentally retarded: Development, processes and intervention. In S. Rosenberg (Ed.), Handbook of applied psycholinguistics: Major thrusts of research and theory. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

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Applied Psycholinguistics
  • ISSN: 0142-7164
  • EISSN: 1469-1817
  • URL: /core/journals/applied-psycholinguistics
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