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Evidence for and implications of a domain-specific, grammatical deficit.

Dr. Heather van der Lely

Tuesday, November 04, 2003, 01:00pm - 02:00pm

University College London, Centre for Developmental Language Disorders and Cognitive Neuroscience

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November 4, 2003 at 1:00 p.m.

Psychology Room 101, Busch Campus

Dr. Heather van der Lely

University College London, Centre for Developmental Language Disorders and Cognitive Neuroscience

Evidence for and implications of a domain-specific, grammatical deficit.

 There are few cognitive abilities that are uniquely human--- but grammar is one. Therefore, the existence of a domain-specific grammatical deficit in just those aspects of language that are core to the human language faculty (e.g., agreement, recursion) that non-humans do not achieve -- as I have argued is found in Grammatical-specific language impairment (G-SLI) is highly controversial. In this talk, first I present evidence for domain specificity and �residual normality� in children with G-SLI. Secondly, I focus on the linguistic abilities of G-SLI children. I will illustrate that G-SLI is a pervasive deficit in the computational grammatical system that is core to human language. Specifically, I show that their deficit affects hierarchical structural relations causing problems in building complex linguistic representations in syntax, morphology and phonology. I present the RDDR hypothesis which more narrowly defines the syntactic impairment within Chomsky�s Minimalist framework and claims that the basic operation involving dependent relations characterised by Move is �optional� in G-SLI grammar, whereas it is obligatory in adult grammar. The RDDR hypothesis is tested using cross-linguistic investigations of Wh-questions in English, Greek and Hebrew and negative particles in English. Within phonology, I will discuss recent findings illustrating that the deficit extends to prosodic (syllable and metrical) complexity. Finally, data from the production of regular and irregular inflection illustrates the autonomy and cumulative contribution of impairments at different levels of grammar (syntax, morphology, and phonology) alongside normal lexical-storage. In sum: the data from G-SLI provide evidence for a domain-specific grammatical deficit, which affects language in a predictable way.

 

 

Dr. Heather van der Lely