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Verb inflection in German-learning children with typical and atypical language acquisition: the impact of subsyllabic frequencies*

  • SUSAN OTT (a1) and BARBARA HÖHLE (a1)

Abstract

Previous research has shown that high phonotactic frequencies facilitate the production of regularly inflected verbs in English-learning children with specific language impairment (SLI) but not with typical development (TD). We asked whether this finding can be replicated for German, a language with a much more complex inflectional verb paradigm than English. Using an elicitation task, the production of inflected nonce verb forms (3rd person singular with -t suffix) with either high- or low-frequency subsyllables was tested in sixteen German-learning children with SLI (ages 4;1–5;1), sixteen TD-children matched for chronological age (CA) and fourteen TD-children matched for verbal age (VA) (ages 3;0–3;11). The findings revealed that children with SLI, but not CA- or VA-children, showed differential performance between the two types of verbs, producing more inflectional errors when the verb forms resulted in low-frequency subsyllables than when they resulted in high-frequency subsyllables, replicating the results from English-learning children.

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Address for correspondence: Susan Ott, University of Potsdam, Linguistics Department, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24/25, D-14476 Potsdam, Germany. tel: +49 331 977 2934; fax: +49 331 977 2095; e-mail: susott@googlemail.com.

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Verb inflection in German-learning children with typical and atypical language acquisition: the impact of subsyllabic frequencies*

  • SUSAN OTT (a1) and BARBARA HÖHLE (a1)

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