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Auteur: Kleanthes K. GROHMANN

Co-Auteur(s): Maria KAMBANAROS, Cyprus Acquisition Team (Cyprus)

Differentiating Verb Error Naming in SLI: GAP Verbs vs Light Verb Construction

Abstract/Résumé: Over the past decade, evidence has accumulated that language development depends on multiple, underlying faculties that are distinctly specified genetically. Children presenting with specific language impairment (SLI), for example, have variable deficits in different components of grammar in the absence of other factors that typically accompany language problems (Bishop, 2006). This paper addresses some of the questions from the vantage point of Cypriot Greek by investigating action picture-naming confrontation tasks administered to children with typical language development (TLD) and children with SLI. Particular emphasis will be put on the often noted overuse of semantically ‘bleached’ or ‘empty’ verbs — call them ‘not fully lexical verbs’ — possibly used as ‘general all-purpose’ (GAP) verbs by children, especially those with SLI (Bloom et al., 1980; Miller & Fellbaum, 1991; Conti-Ramsden & Jones, 1997). The Cypriot Object and Action Test (COAT; Kambanaros et al., forthcoming) was administered to assess lexical retrieval of nouns and verbs. A total of sixty-four children participated: • 14 children diagnosed with SLI (mean: 6;9 years) • 30 first-graders with TLD (mean: 6;3) • 20 pre-school children with TLD (mean: 4;7) It has recently been claimed that light verbs might be employed more regularly, but also more variedly, in Cypriot Greek as compared to Standard Modern Greek (Mavroudi et al., 2010), so it is interesting to note that there was only one example of a true light verb construction in the present study: kamni kalami ‘do.3SG rod’ for ‘fishing’ — and this was used by a six-year-old with TLD; the children with SLI did not use any such structures but did make extended use of GAP verbs. We capitalize on the frequent use of GAP verbs by children with SLI, which look qualitatively quite different from light verbs (see Ingham, 1994, for early criticism of undifferentiated GAP verbs in the literature). We will develop an approach to ‘not fully lexical verbs’ that encompasses both GAP and light verbs, with the latter being a productive, grammatical strategy and the former a filler element for various reasons and populations, to be extended to other contexts, such as temporary word-finding problems. Our verb naming data from the COAT will also be compared to narrative re-tell samples (Bus Story), which showed that verb diversity in spontaneous language expressed in type-token ratios was not significantly different between the SLI and TLD groups.