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The Morphosyntax of Specific Language Impairment in French: An Extended Optional Default Account

Johanne Paradis and Martha Crago
Language Acquisition
Vol. 9, No. 4 (2001), pp. 269-300
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20011516
Page Count: 32
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The Morphosyntax of Specific Language Impairment in French: An Extended Optional Default Account
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Abstract

This study examines the use of tense, agreement, and non-tense morphemes and associated distributional contingencies in the language production of Quebec French-speaking children with specific language impairment (SLI) and normally developing language and age-matched controls. We sought to determine whether the Optional Infinitive/Extended Optional Infinitive (OI/EOI; e.g., Rice & Wexler (1996)) pattern of normal and impaired developmental language in English occurs in French as well. In so doing, we also sought to explore the possibility that certain kinds of finite verb forms can pattern as root infinitives in some languages including French. Our results indicate that SLI in French has the majority of the EOI characteristics displayed in English SLI, such as variable use of tense-marking morphemes combined with accuracy of form choice, obedience to distributional contingencies associated with finiteness, and relatively nonvariable use of non-tense grammatical morphemes. Our results also provide support for French SLI being an extension of an earlier stage in normal development. Furthermore, our analyses reveal that the finite verb stem in French appears to act as a root infinitive along side the nonfinite verb forms. Accordingly, we suggest that the (Extended) Optional Infinitive account could be renamed the (Extended) Optional Default account in order to include certain finite forms as well as nonfinite forms as root infinitives.

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