No AccessJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing ResearchResearch Article1 Apr 2006

Nonword Repetition and Sentence Repetition as Clinical Markers of Specific Language Impairment: The Case of Cantonese

    Purpose

    Recent research suggests that nonword repetition (NWR) and sentence repetition (SR) tasks can be used to discriminate between children with SLI and their typically developing age-matched (TDAM) and younger (TDY) peers.

    Method

    Fourteen Cantonese-speaking children with SLI and 30 of their TDAM and TDY peers were compared on NWR and SR tasks. NWR of IN nonwords (CV combinations attested in the language) and OUT nonwords (CV combinations unattested in the language) were compared. SR performance was compared using 4 different scoring methods.

    Results

    The SLI group did not score significantly lower than the TDAM group on the test of NWR (overall results were TDAM = SLI > TDY). There were nonsignificant group differences on IN syllables but not on OUT syllables. The results do not suggest a limitation in phonological working memory in Cantonese-speaking children with SLI. The SR task discriminated between children and their TDAM peers but not between children with SLI and their TDY peers matched for mean length of utterance.

    Conclusions

    SR but not NWR discriminates between children with SLI and their TDAM peers. Poorer NWR for English-speaking children with SLI might be attributable to weaker use of the redintegration strategy in word repetition. Further cross-linguistic investigations of processing strategies are required.

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