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Transcription of conjoined clauses (Oetting & Maleki, 2024)

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posted on 2024-05-17, 17:03 authored by Janna B. Oetting, Tahmineh Maleki

Purpose: Transcription of conjoined independent clauses within language samples varies across professionals. Some transcribe these clauses as two separate utterances, whereas others conjoin them within a single utterance. As an inquiry into equitable practice, we examined rates of conjoined independent clauses produced by children and the impact of separating these clauses within utterances on measures of mean length of utterance (MLU) by a child’s English dialect, clinical status, and age.

Method: The data were archival and included 246 language samples from children classified by their dialect (African American English or Southern White English) and clinical status (developmental language disorder [DLD] or typically developing [TD]), with those in the TD group further classified by their age (4 years [TD4] or 6 years [TD6]).

Results: Rates of conjoined independent clauses and the impact of these clauses on MLU varied by clinical status (DLD < TD) and age (TD4 < TD6), but not by dialect. Correlations between the rate of conjoined clauses, MLU, and language test scores were also similar across the two dialects.

Conclusions: Transcription decisions regarding conjoined independent clauses within language samples lead to equitable measurement outcomes across dialects of English. Nevertheless, transcribing conjoined independent clauses as two separate utterances reduces one’s ability to detect syntactic differences between children with and without DLD and document syntactic growth as children age.

Supplemental Material S1. Procedures, language profiles, and decision processes used to classify children as DLD or TD.

Supplemental Material S2. Results from a series of 2 (dialect) × 3 (group) ANOVAs, with group main effects followed by least significance difference t-test procedures.

Oetting, J. B., & Maleki, T. (2024). Transcription decisions of conjoined independent clauses are equitable across dialects but impact measurement outcomes. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools. Advance online publication.


The data were collected with support from National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grants DC03609 (awarded to Janna Oetting) and DC009811 (awarded to Janna Oetting, Michael Hegarty, and Janet McDonald).