Definitional skill in school-age children with specific language impairment

Sally A. Marinellie, Cynthia J. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of the present study was to investigate the definitional skills in children with specific language impairment (SLI). Fifteen children with SLI and 15 matched control participants were asked to define 10 common high-frequency nouns (e.g., apple, horse, and boat). Definitions were scored for both content and form. Children with SLI scored significantly lower than children with typically developing language for both content and form. Results suggest that lexical access and/or lack of metalinguistic knowledge were potential causes for the lower scores earned by the children with SLI when defining common nouns. Implications for assessment of and intervention for definitional skill are discussed. Learning outcomes: The reader will be able to explain the importance of definitional skill and how this skill generally develops in typically developing children. The reader will be able to describe the performance, in terms of content and form, of children with SLI and their typically developing peers in defining common high-frequency nouns. The reader will also be able to discuss what possible impact linguistic knowledge, metalinguistic knowledge, and lexical access have on children with SLI in defining the common nouns in this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-259
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Communication Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Academic achievement
  • Language development
  • Metalinguistics
  • Vocabulary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • LPN and LVN
  • Speech and Hearing


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