Research Article
Volume 13 Issue 8 - 2021
Rioplatense Spanish Speaking Schoolchildren with and without Language Difficulties: Syntactic and Lexical Aspects
Horacio Dotti1,2*, Santiago Perman1, Ianina Nudelman1 and Ana Paula Matijasevich1
1Faculty of Humanities and Sciences, Universidad Nacional del Litoral, Argentina
2Faculty of Philosophy and Humanities, Universidad Católica de Santa Fe, Argentina
*Corresponding Author: Horacio Dotti, Faculty of Humanities and Sciences, Universidad Nacional del Litoral and Faculty of Philosophy and Humanities, Universidad Católica de Santa Fe, Santa Fe, Argentina.
Received: June 04, 2021; Published: July 27, 2021


Two groups of schoolchildren, one of 6 to 8 and the other of 9 to 12 years old, participated in a comprehension test of complex syntactic structures and maintained individual interviews. It was hypothesized that the processing of high-cost syntactic structures, such as reversible passives, relatives and partial questions, is especially difficult for children with language deficits.

The aim of the study was twofold: to recognize possible comprehension difficulties with the implementation of a test battery, and to evaluate to what extent comprehension difficulties allow us to predict distinctive lexical characteristics in the oral speech production of participants.

Regarding the first goal, the implementation of the test allowed us to distinguish three groups: children without comprehension difficulties; children that overcame initial difficulties in a second test carried out two years later; and children who did not overcome the difficulties and were considered at risk of Specific Language Impairment. Regarding the second goal, the results suggest that traditional lexical diversity measures remain at similar values in children with and without difficulties regardless of age. More specific measures did allow establishing group differences. The most notable difference was found in verbs: young and old children without comprehension difficulties produced significantly more different verbs than the groups with difficulties, while there were no significant differences between groups with comprehension problems.

Taken together, the results indicate that 10.43% of the total participants had comprehension problems, of which a third were also evaluated and diagnosed by professionals outside this investigation. The remaining two-thirds went unnoticed in the family and/or school environments. Furthermore, measurements of lexical diversity support the idea that deficient syntactic comprehension predicts lexical impoverishment, in particular, at the production of verbal predicates.

Altogether, the results obtained suggest that schoolchildren with temporary or permanent comprehension problems could be making strategic use of language tending to minimize processing costs in their oral speech productions.

Keywords: Specific Language Impairment; Language Processing; Syntactic Comprehension; Lexical Diversity; Verbal Predicates


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Citation: Horacio Dotti., et al. “Rioplatense Spanish Speaking Schoolchildren with and without Language Difficulties: Syntactic and Lexical Aspects”. EC Neurology 13.8 (2021): 56-74.

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