Semantic categories of bilingual DLD (Shivabasappa et al., 2019)

Purpose: The study examines the extent of convergence of semantic category members in Spanish–English bilingual children with reference to adults using a semantic fluency task.
Method: Thirty-seven children with developmental language disorder (DLD), matched pairwise with 37 typically developing (TD) children in the age range of 7;0–9;11 (years;months), produced items in 7 semantic categories (3 taxonomic and 4 slot-filler) in both Spanish and English. The 10 most frequently produced items for each category by 20 Spanish–English bilingual adults were identified as the most prototypical responses. The top 10 items generated by TD children and children with DLD, in their order of production, were analyzed for the amount of convergence with adults’ responses.
Results: The top 5 items produced by children with DLD showed similar convergence scores as those produced by their TD peers. However, their responses in the 6th to 10th positions showed lower convergence scores than their TD peers. Children’s convergence scores were higher for the slot-filler condition compared to taxonomic in both English and Spanish. The convergence scores also significantly differed across the semantic categories.
Conclusion: The children with DLD show greater convergence on the typical items generated earlier in their word lists than the items generated later. This pattern of convergence and divergence highlights their strengths and weaknesses in the representation of lexical–semantic knowledge for typical versus less typical items.

Supplemental Material S1. Top ten category items and their adult production frequencies (N = 20).

Shivabasappa, P., Peña, E. D., & Bedore, L. M. (2019). Semantic category convergence in Spanish–English bilingual children with and without developmental language disorder. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 62, 2361–2371. https://doi.org/10.1044/2019_JSLHR-L-17-0427