The onset of tense marking in children at risk for specific language impairment

Pamela A. Hadley, Heather Short

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to develop and evaluate measures reflecting the onset of tense marking for children between the ages of 2;0 (years;months) and 3;0. Method: The validity of 4 cumulative measures of tense marker emergence and productivity was evaluated relative to existing measures of early grammatical development in a sample of 20 children followed longitudinally. Fourteen children were at risk for specific language impairment (AR-SLI group), and 6 children had low average language abilities (LA group). Results: All measures of onset were highly correlated with the traditional measures; however, children's progress toward mastery of grammatical tense marking was best explained by the productivity of their tense marking systems. Finally, the onset measures imposing productivity requirements best differentiated children in the LA group from those in the AR-SU group. Conclusions: The clinical implications for using the late onset of tense marking to improve the early identification of SU are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1344-1362
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Assessment
  • Clinical markers
  • Late-talking children
  • Specific language impairment
  • Tense marking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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