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Auteur: Maria Teresa GUASTI

Object clitics across linguistic modes in a crosslinguistic perspective

Abstract/Résumé: The production of clitics is an excellent clinical marker of SLI in Italian at 5 years (Bortolini et al., 2006) and at 7 years (Arosio et al., 2010) identifying more than 90% of the children affected with SLI at both ages. However, clitic production is problematic in other conditions (Leonini, 2006; Belletti & Haman, 2009), among which early L2 acquisition, acquisition by cochlear implanted (CI) children, acquisition by children with dyslexia. This is a serious problem for the identification of L2 children with SLI, of children with SLI among CI children. It also raises the question of why clitics are vulnerable in all these acquisition modes. Clitics are less of a problem for Greek children with SLI and dyslexia, although they are also vulnerable in this language. This paper aims at providing a viable solution for the identification of SLI among L2 and CI children, an explanation for why clitics are vulnerable in all the condition considered and an evaluation of the crosslinguistic difference. I build my argument on different studies all involved with the production of clitics (direct or/and indirect object clitics) and with the administration of other critical tasks aimed at highlighting different areas of strengths and weaknesses among different populations of Italian and Greek speaking children between 5 and 9 years. I show that quantitative and qualitative differences are observed among the various populations and that different profiles distinguish these populations. Finally, I will offer a proposal whereby the difficulties with clitics stems either from single specific linguistic component or from the combined contribution of different components and this is conjectured to cover also differences between Italian and Greek.