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Investigating grammatical complexity in Gulf Arabic speaking children with specific language impairment (SLI)

Shaalan, S.; (2010) Investigating grammatical complexity in Gulf Arabic speaking children with specific language impairment (SLI). Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This is the first investigation of Specific Language Impairment (SLI) in Gulf-Arabic (GA) speaking children. The thesis consists of two main sections, in the first one, I discuss the definitions of SLI and the various theories put forward to account for the deficits seen in this population. I also discuss the importance of cross-linguistic investigations of SLI and why studying SLI in GA may prove useful in testing the accounts of SLI that argue for a general processing deficit vs. those that argue for a domain specific account of SLI. The remaining section of the first part is dedicated to describing the various language tests developed to identify children with SLI in GA. These tests were conducted with approximately 88 typically developing children and 26 children with SLI between the age of 4;6 and 9;4 years old. In the second part of the thesis, I report on two experiments investigating syntactic and phonological complexity in GA speaking children with SLI. The first experiment investigates the comprehension of three types of word orders: a canonical SVO, and two word orders that involve fronting of the direct object (OSV and OVS). Results showed that children with SLI differed from the TD groups on the sentences with fronted NP's, but not on the canonical word order. The second experiment involves a nonword repetition test where syllable length and consonant clusters are systematically controlled to contrast the influence of both phonological short-term memory and phonological complexity. The results are consistent with accounts that argue for a significant role of phonological complexity in NWR and question the “centrality” of phonological capacity in nonword repetition. The final chapter summarises the findings of the thesis and its contribution to theories of SLI in general, and to the study of SLI in Arabic in particular.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Investigating grammatical complexity in Gulf Arabic speaking children with specific language impairment (SLI)
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English

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