Detailed Description of Verbal –s Marking in Child AAE and SWE (Cleveland & Oetting, 2013)
journal contributionposted on 2021-12-16, 18:54 authored by Lesli H. Cleveland, Janna B. Oetting
Purpose: Children’s marking of verbal –s was examined by their dialect (African American English [AAE] vs. Southern White English [SWE]) and clinical status (specific language impairment [SLI] vs. typically developing [TD]) and as a function of 4 linguistic variables (verb regularity, negation, expression of a habitual activity, and expression of historical present tense).
Method: The data were language samples from 57 six-year-olds who varied by their dialect and clinical status (AAE: SLI = 14, TD = 12; SWE: SLI = 12, TD = 19).
Results: The AAE groups produced lower rates of marking than did the SWE groups, and the SWE SLI group produced lower rates of marking than did the SWE TD group. Although low numbers of verb contexts made it difficult to evaluate the linguistic variables, there was evidence of their influence, especially for verb regularity and negation. The direction and magnitude of the effects were often (but not always) consistent with what has been described in the adult dialect literature.
Conclusion: Verbal –s can be used to help distinguish children with and without SLI in SWE but not in AAE. Clinicians can apply these findings to other varieties of AAE and SWE and other dialects by considering rates of marking and the effects of linguistic variables on marking.