Evaluating morphosyntactic differences in narrative re-tell tasks between bilingual children with and without language impairment using computational methods

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Dowd, Erin Adams

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The diversity of linguistic backgrounds and second-language competencies of Spanish-English bilingual school-age children present challenges for accurately diagnosing and treating language impairment. Narrative re-tell samples from Peña, Gillam, & Bedore (2014) were analyzed in two groups of 21 matched language-impaired and typically developing children, aged 4-7 years old attending school in central Texas. Transcribed methods included a custom extension of the Natural Language Processing Toolkit in Python and the IPSYN analytical function in CLAN (MacWhinney, 2000). From these analyses, the complexity and linguistic diversity of nested –ing verb phrases and IPSYN scores were compared across groups. Language-impaired children made significantly more errors in auxiliary verb use, had less diverse vocabulary, and had lower syntactic complexity scores than their typically developing counterparts.


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