Morphological Deficits in Children With Specific Language Impairment: The Status of Features in the Underlying Grammar

Laurence B. Leonard, M. Cristina Caselli, Umberta Bortolini, Karla K. McGregor, Letizia Sabbadini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

212 Scopus citations


A common profile among specifically-language-impaired (SLI) children acquiring English is a mild to moderate deficit in a range of language areas (lexicon, syntax) and a more serious deficit in morphology. There are several possible accounts of these children's extraordinary difficulty with morphology. In this investigation, we examined the possibility that the features necessary for morphology, such as person and number, are absent from the underlying grammars of SLI children. We approached this question by examining the morphology of both Italian-speaking and English-speaking SLI children, as well as that of two types of control children, one matched according to age, the other according to mean length of utterance. The results suggested that an assumption of features missing from the underlying grammar is not warranted for the children studied here.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-179
Number of pages29
JournalLanguage Acquisition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 1992


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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