- At the intersection of cognition and grammar: deficits comprehending counterfactuals in Turkish children with specific language impairment
- Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
- Volume | Issue number
- 58 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication (ACLC)
Purpose: This study investigated the comprehension of counterfactual conditionals in monolingual Turkish children with specific language impairment (SLI) and typically developing (TD) children. Comprehending counterfactuals requires a well-developed cognitive system (Beck, Riggs, & Gorniak, 2009). Children with SLI have impaired cognitive functioning (Im Bolter, Johnston, & Pascaul-Leone, 2006) and this impacts on their ability to comprehend counterfactuals.
Method: The sample consisted of 13 children with SLI who were matched on age and nonverbal IQ with 13 TD children (mean age 6;9 [years; months] for both groups). Each group completed a sentence comprehension and repetition task with three sentence conditions: nonconditional, factual and counterfactual. Nonconditionals do not have if embedding whereas factual and counterfactual conditionals are morphosyntactically equivalent if-clauses, but only the latter is cognitively complex.
Results: Conditionals were more difficult to comprehend than nonconditionals for both groups. Counterfactuals were more difficult to comprehend than the morphosyntactically equivalent factual counterparts for the SLI group. There was no discrepancy between the groups for repetition of counterfactuals and factuals.
Conclusions: Children with SLI have difficulty processing counterfactuals due to
morphosyntactic complexity (if-embedding) and the cognitive processes involved in
comprehending counterfactuals. This indicates that cognitive complexity adds to sentence comprehension deficits in SLI.
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