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Late-talking toddlers: MLU and IPSyn outcomes at 3;0 and 4;0

    • Published online: 16 November 2000

Expressive language outcomes measured by MLU and the Index of Productive Syntax (IPSyn) at ages 3;0 and 4;0 were investigated in 34 late talkers with normal receptive language identified between 2;0 to 2;7 and 16 typically developing comparison children matched on age, SES, and nonverbal ability. Late talkers made greater gains than comparison children between 3;0 and 4;0 in both MLU and IPSyn raw score. However, when age-standardized z-scores were analysed, the late talkers were about 2·5 standard deviations below comparison children on both measures at both ages. At 3;0, 41% of the late talkers had MLUs above the 10th percentile based on Scarborough's (1990) benchmark sample; by 4;0, 71% did so. Using the IPSyn, a more stringent measure, 34% scored above the 10th percentile at 3;0 and only 29% did so at 4;0. MLU was significantly correlated with the IPSyn at both ages for the late talkers, but only at 3;0 for the comparison children. A converging set of regression analyses indicated no group differences in the predictive relationship between MLU and IPSyn, suggesting that the late talkers were delayed on both measures but not deviant in their development.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Leslie Rescorla, Professor Department of Psychology, Bryn Mawr College, 101 N. Merion Ave. Bryn Mawr, PA 19010, USA. tel: 610-527-5190. e-mail:
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This research was supported by grants to the first author from the Bryn Mawr College Faculty Research Fund and from the National Institutes of Health (NICHD Area Grant 1-R15-HD22355-01; NIDCD R01-DC00807). The authors are indebted to Hollis Scarborough for her generous consultation and wish to thank the parents and children whose participation made this research possible.
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Journal of Child Language
  • ISSN: 0305-0009
  • EISSN: 1469-7602
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-child-language
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