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Referring expressions and structural language abilities in children with specific language impairment: A pragmatic tolerance account

Davies, C; Andrés-Roqueta, C; Norbury, CF; (2016) Referring expressions and structural language abilities in children with specific language impairment: A pragmatic tolerance account. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology , 144 pp. 98-113. 10.1016/j.jecp.2015.11.011. Green open access

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Abstract

Specific language impairment (SLI) has traditionally been characterized as a deficit of structural language (specifically grammar), with relative strengths in pragmatics. In this study, comprehensive assessment of production, comprehension, and metalinguistic judgment of referring expressions revealed that children with SLI have weaknesses in both structural and pragmatic language skills relative to age-matched peers. Correlational analyses highlight a relationship between their performance on the experimental tasks and their structural language ability. Despite their poor performance on the production and comprehension tasks, children with SLI were able to recognize pragmatically under-informative reference relative to other types of utterance, although they imposed a less severe penalty on such expressions than typically developing peers, a pattern that supports the pragmatic tolerance account. Our novel methodology (which probed structural abilities from both the speaker’s and hearer’s perspectives as well as metalinguistic and pragmatic skills in the same sample) challenges the assumption that pragmatic errors stem from deficits in social cognition and instead supports recent findings suggesting that when the impact of structural language is isolated, pragmatic deficits may be resolved.

Type: Article
Title: Referring expressions and structural language abilities in children with specific language impairment: A pragmatic tolerance account
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2015.11.011
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2015.11.011
Language: English
Additional information: © 2016. This manuscript version is published under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Non-derivative 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). This licence allows you to share, copy, distribute and transmit the work for personal and non-commercial use providing author and publisher attribution is clearly stated. Further details about CC BY licences are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0.
Keywords: Specific language impairment; Reference; Referring expressions; Informativeness; Pragmatics; Social cognition
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Language and Cognition
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1476776
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