Prosodic templates of inflected words: An area of difficulty for German-speaking children with Specific Language Impairment?
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Recent studies suggest that morphosyntactic difficulties may result from prosodic problems. We therefore address the interface between inflectional morphology and prosody in typically developing children (TD) and children with SLI by testing whether these groups are sensitive to prosodic constraints that guide plural formation in German. A plural elicitation task was designed consisting of 60 words and 20 pseudowords. The performance of 14 German-speaking children with SLI (mean age 7.5) was compared to age-matched controls and to younger children matched for productive vocabulary. TD children performed significantly better than children with SLI. Error analyses revealed that children with SLI produced more forms that did not meet the optimal shape of a noun plural. Beyond the fact that children with SLI have deficits in plural marking, the findings suggest that they also show reduced sensitivity to prosodic requirements. In other words, the prosodic structure of inflected words seems to be vulnerable in children with SLI.