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January 2022

Prosody and sentence processing: Does an exaggerated sentence prosody support language processing in specifically language impaired children?

Author(s): Muller, C.

Journal/Book: Z Entwicklungspsychol Padago. 1996; 28: Rohnsweg 25, D-37085 Gottingen, Germany. Hogrefe-Verlag GmbH & Co. 228-256.

Abstract: Based on the prosodic deficit hypothesis, this study investigated the ability of specifically language impaired (SLI) children to exploit rhythmic-prosodic information in sentence processing. 11 SLI children (aged: 5;2-6;11) were given a sentence reproduction task. The rhythmic-prosodic structure of the sentences varied systematically, i.e., the sentences were presented with a monotone sentence prosody, with a ''normal'' sentence prosody, or with an exaggerated prosody. The exaggerated version followed the typical prosodic modifications seen in speech to very young children (''motherese'') to investigate whether this input manipulation could compensate for the language processing deficits of SLI children. As a group the children had more problems reproducing the monotone compared to the normal sentence versions; when given exaggerated prosodic information they were not able to further improve their performance. However, an analysis of individual differences showed that this pattern did not hold for all SLI children. A subgroup of somewhat older SLI children with comparatively better rhythmic and language abilities was able to improve their sentence reproductions when given an exaggerated prosodic sentence structure. The data pattern is discussed with respect to the interrelations between rhythmic and prosodic deficits on the one hand and language processing and language acquisition on the other hand.

Note: Article S Weinert, Univ Bielefeld, Psychol ABT, Postfach 100131, D-33501 Bielefeld, Germany

Keyword(s): SLI children; language processing; prosodic structure; YOUNG INFANTS; SPEECH; CUES; PERCEPTION; MOTHERS; FATHERS; UNITS


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