Assessing the Language Skills of African American English Child Speakers: Current Approaches and Perspectives
Toya A. Wyatt
The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of current as well as past special education regulations, litigation, professional association guidelines, clinical models, and best practice approaches for the clinical speech and language skills of African American English (AAE) for zero-three, preschool and school-age child speakers. It also provides a summary of current AAE child language research within the field of Communication Sciences and Disorders that has implications for: a) the selection of appropriate formal and informal speech-language assessment procedures, b) accurate differential diagnosis of disorder vs. normal dialect difference in children with suspected language impairment and c) the identification of appropriate therapy goals when relevant. Implications for the development of future theoretical frameworks and standardized assessments that help to minimize the historical misdiagnosis and disproportionate over-identification of African American students for speech-language and other special education placements is also addressed.
The present article poses some fundamental questions related to bilingualism and to the acquisition of two phonological components, by very young children. It discusses different types of bilingualism and their outcomes. After a brief consideration of alleged pros and cons of bilingualism brought up in the past decades, two perspectives of bilingualism are sketched—psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic—and certain aspects of bilingual child phonology are presented from each of these points of view. The essential issue is whether different outcomes of bilingual child phonology are predictable, and to find the crucial criteria to support the predictions. Finally, the discussion addresses some basic questions about bilingual acquisition, and ends with a summary of various types of cross-linguistic interaction.
Lila R. Gleitman, Andrew C. Connolly, and Sharon Lee Armstrong
This article reviews two kinds of experimental evidence from laboratories that challenge the adequacy of prototypes for representing human concepts. First, experiments suggesting that prototype theory does not distinguish adequately among concepts of maximally variant types, such as formal vs. natural kind and artifact concepts. Second, a more recent experimental line demonstrating how theories of conceptual combination with lexical prototypes fail to predict actual phrasal interpretations, such as language users' doubts as to whether Lithuanian apples are likely to be as edible as apples. An extensive body of empirical research seems to provide evidence for the psychological validity of the prototype position. The default to the compositional stereotype strategy (DS) mentions that barring information, to the contrary, assumes that the typical adjective–noun combination satisfies the noun stereotype.
Alissa Melinger, Thomas Pechmann, and Sandra Pappert
Speech production involves the transformation of a to-be-expressed idea, or message, into lexical and grammatical content. Given the generally recognised separation of functional and positional processes, it has been argued that case assignment is within the domain of functional processes (or within Dell's syntactic stage). This article focuses on case assignment, which is achieved during the grammatical encoding stage of utterance planning. Early proposals for sentence production models were highly influenced by the distribution and characteristics of naturally occurring speech errors. More recent revisions of these models have been further influenced by experimental investigations into structural and word order alternations using a method called syntactic priming. This article first lays out in gross terms the general views of the stages necessary for sentence production. It then discusses the evidence that has supported the various stages of the production models and how they directly or indirectly inform us about the processes responsible for case assignment in sentence production. This includes evidence for and against (radical or weak) incrementality and evidence for lexical guidance (or verb primacy) in functional assignment.
Markus Bader and Monique Lamers
Research on human language comprehension has been heavily influenced by properties of the English language. Since case plays only a minor role in English, its role for language comprehension has only recently become a topic for extensive research on psycholinguistics. In the psycholinguistic literature, these processes are called the human parsing mechanism or the human sentence processing mechanism (HSPM). According to the Strong Competence Hypothesis, the syntactic structures computed by the HSPM are exactly those structures that are specified by the competence grammar. This article assumes that the HSPM computes phrase-structure representations enriched by various syntactic features, in particular case features on noun phrases. After providing a short introduction into current research concerned with the HSPM, it explores how syntactic functions are assigned in the face of morphological case ambiguity, the role of case for identifying clause boundaries in languages like Japanese and Korean, the problem of syntactic ambiguity resolution, and whether markedness distinctions that have been postulated to obtain between different cases are reflected in language comprehension.
This article examines the relation between the study of comparative syntax and language disorders. It aims to demonstrate ways in which research on impaired language interacts with syntactic theory. The article shows that the study of impaired language interacts with comparative syntax in particular, a research program which aims at understanding human language by comparing and contrasting the behavior or properties of several languages with respect to certain syntactic structures or types of phenomena. It also discusses several types of language therapy.
This article addresses the issue of compositionality of mental representations from the perspective of a foundational framework for cognitive science. The dynamical cognition framework (DC framework) is inspired partially by connectionism and partially by the persistence of the problem of relevance within classical computational cognitive science. It treats cognition in terms of the mathematics of dynamical systems: total occurrent cognitive states are mathematically/structurally realized as points in a high-dimensional dynamical system, and these mathematical points are physically realized by total-activation states of a neural network with specific connection weights. The framework repudiates the classicist assumption that cognitive-state transitions conform to a tractably computable transition function over cognitive states. Computational Theory of Mind (CTM) states that the causal role of a mental representation is syntactically determined, but this idea of syntactic determination of causal role is ambiguous.
This chapter provides a critical overview of experimental and computational research on the processing and representation of derived words. It begins with an introductory section addressing methodological issues: The pros and cons of various popular experimental tasks, issues with respect to the selection of materials, as well as the relevance of experimental research for morphological theory. The main section reviews two opposing classes of theories for the organization of the mental lexicon: theories building on the dictionary metaphor, and theories seeking to understand lexical processing without a mental dictionary and without theoretical constructs such as the morpheme.
Ianthi Tsimpli, Maria Kambanaros, and Kleanthes Grohmann
Universal Grammar (UG) denotes the species-specific faculty of language, presumed to be invariant across individuals. Over the years, it has shrunk from a full-blown set of principles and parameters to a much smaller set of properties, possibly as small as just containing the linguistic structure-building operation Merge, which in turn derives the uniquely human language property of recursion (Hauser et al., 2002). UG qua human faculty of language is further assumed to constitute the ‘optimal solution to minimal design specifications’ (Chomsky 2001:1), a perfect system for language. Unfortunately, the human system or physiology does not always run perfectly smooth in an optimal fashion. There are malfunctions, misformations, and other aberrations throughout. The language system is no exception. This chapter will present language pathology from the perspective of the underlying system: What can non-intact language tell us about UG?
This chapter provides a selective overview of recent research on the phonetics and phonology of bilingualism. The central idea put forth in the chapter is that, in bilingualism and second-language learning, cross-language categories are involved in complex interactions that can take many forms, including assimilations and dissimilations. The sound categories of the two languages of a bilingual seem to coexist in a common representational network and appear to be activated simultaneously in the processing of speech in real time, but some degree of specificity is attested. The chapter then goes on to explore some of the characteristics of cross-language sound interactions, including the fact that these interactions are pliable and appear to be mediated by the structure of the lexicon.