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Between L2 and SLI: inflections and prepositions in the Hebrew of bilingual children with TLD and monolingual children with SLI*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 November 2012

Bar Ilan University
Address for correspondence: Sharon Armon-Lotem, Bar Ilan University, The Department of English, Ramat Gan, Israel52900. e-mail:


Verb inflectional morphology and prepositions are loci of difficulty for bilingual children with typical language development (TLD) as well as children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI). This paper examines errors in these linguistic domains in these two populations. Bilingual English–Hebrew and Russian–Hebrew preschool children, aged five to seven, with TLD, and age-matched monolingual Hebrew-speaking children with SLI, were tested using sentence completion and sentence imitation tasks in their L2 Hebrew. Our findings show that, despite the similarity in the locus of errors, the two populations can be distinguished by both the quantity and the quality of errors. While bilingual children with TLD had substitution errors often motivated by the first language, most of the errors of monolingual children with SLI involved omission of the whole morpheme or feature reduction. This difference in the nature of the errors is discussed in terms of bilingual processing vs. impaired representation.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012 

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This research was supported in part by THE ISRAEL SCIENCE FOUNDATION (grant No.938) and by the BMBF funded Consortium ‘Migration and Societal Integration’. I would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments.



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