Purpose

Results of recent pilot studies suggest that the interpretation of pronouns in individuals with Down syndrome (DS) may follow a pattern unattested in typical development, indicating the presence of a selective deficit targeting the comprehension of reflexive pronouns. These findings come at a time when there is a heated debate surrounding pronoun comprehension in typical development as well. This study aims to contribute to these debates by examining pronoun comprehension in Greek, a language that exhibits unusual patterns in pronoun comprehension in typical development.

Method

Seven Greek-speaking individuals with DS and a control group of 14 typically developing (TD) children were tested. The authors examined the comprehension of strong pronouns, reflexive pronouns, and pronominal clitics, using a picture selection task.

Results

The data reveal evidence of deviant pronoun comprehension in individuals with DS compared with the TD group. The DS group encountered problems in the interpretation of reflexive pronouns when compared with the TD group, while the performance of the two groups was comparable in all remaining conditions.

Conclusions

Findings are in line with the selective deficit model of language comprehension in DS, supporting the presence of a cross-linguistic reflexive deficit.

References

  • Abbeduto, L., Murphy, M. M., Cawthon, S. W., Richmond, E. K., Weissman, M., Karadottir, S., & O’Brien, A. (2003). Receptive language skills of adolescents and young adults with Down or fragile X syndrome.American Journal of Mental Retardation, 108, 149–160.
  • Abbeduto, L., Warren, S. F., & Conners, F. A. (2007). Language development in Down syndrome: From the prelinguistic period to the acquisition of literacy.Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 13, 247–261.
  • Anagnostopoulou, E., & Everaert, M. (1999). Towards a more complete typology of anaphoric expressions.Linguistic Inquiry, 30, 97–118.
  • Avrutin, S., & Wexler, K. (1992). Development of principle B in Russian: Coindexation at LF and coreference.Language Acquisition, 2, 259–306.
  • Baauw, S., & Cuetos, F. (2003). The interpretation of pronouns in Spanish language acquisition and breakdown: Evidence for the “Principle B Delay” as a non-unitary phenomenon.Language Acquisition, 11, 219–275.
  • Baauw, S., Zuckerman, S., Ruigendijk, E., & Avrutin, S. (2011). Principle B delays as a processing problem: Evidence from task effects.In A. Grimm, A. Muller, C. Hamann, & & M. E. Ruigendijk (Eds.), Production-comprehension asymmetries in child language (pp. 247–272). Berlin, Germany: Mouton De Gruyter.
  • Bridges, A., & Smith, J. (1984). Syntactic comprehension in Down’s syndrome children.British Journal of Psychology, 75, 187–196.
  • Caselli, M., Monaco, L., Trasciani, M., & Vicari, S. (2008). Language in Italian children with Down syndrome and with specific language impairment.Neuropsychology, 22, 27–35.
  • Chapman, R. S., & Hesketh, L. J. (2000). Behavioral phenotype of individuals with Down syndrome.Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 6, 84–95.
  • Chapman, R. S., Hesketh, L. J., & Kistler, D. J. (2002). Predicting longitudinal change in language production and comprehension in individuals with Down syndrome: Hierarchical linear modeling.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 45, 902–915.
  • Chapman, R. S., & Kay-Raining Bird, E. (2012). Language development in childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood in persons with Down syndrome.In J. Burack, R. Hodapp, G. Iarocci, & & E. Zigler (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of intellectual disability and development (pp. 167–183). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Chapman, R. S., Seung, H. K., Schwartz, S. E., & Kay-Raining Bird, E. (1991). Language skills of children and adolescents with Down syndrome: I.Comprehension. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 34, 1106–1120.
  • Chapman, R. S., Seung, H. K., Schwartz, S. E., & Kay-Raining Bird, E. (1998). Language skills of children and adolescents with Down syndrome: II. Production deficits.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 41, 861–873.
  • Chien, Y.-C., & Wexler, K. (1990). Children’s knowledge of locality conditions in binding as evidence for the modularity of syntax and pragmatics.Language Acquisition, 1, 225–295.
  • Conroy, A., Takahashi, E., Lidz, J., & Phillips, C. (2009). Equal treatment for all antecedents: How children succeed with principle B.Linguistic Inquiry, 40, 446–486.
  • COST Action A33(2006–2010). Cross-Linguistically Robust Stages of Children's Linguistic Performance with Applications to the Diagnosis of Specific Language Impairment. Brussels, Belgium: COST Office. Retrieved fromwww.zas.gwz-berlin.de/cost.html
  • Das, J. P., Divis, B., Alexander, J., Parrila, R. K., & Naglieri, J. A. (1995). Cognitive decline due to aging among persons with Down syndrome.Research in Developmental Disabilities, 16, 461–478.
  • Eriks-Brophy, A., Goodluck, H., & Stojanovic, D. (2003). Sensitivity to A- and A’- dependencies in high-functioning individuals with Down Syndrome.In B. Beachley, A. Brown, & & F. Conlin (Eds.), Proceedings of the 27th Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 243–251). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
  • Fidler, D. J., Philofsky, A., & Hepburn, S. L. (2007). Language phenotypes and intervention planning: Bridging research and practice.Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 13, 47–57.
  • Fowler, A. E. (1990). Language abilities in children with Down syndrome: Evidence for a specific syntactic delay.In E. Cicchetti, & M. Beeghly (Eds.), Children with Down syndrome: A developmental perspective (pp. 302–328). Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
  • Gerken, L., & Shady, M. E. (1998). The picture selection task.In D. McDaniel, C. McKee, & & H. Smith Cairns (Eds.), Methods for assessing children’s syntax (pp. 125–145). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Grodzinsky, Y., & Reinhart, T. (1993). The innateness of binding and coreference.Linguistic Inquiry, 24, 69–102.
  • Hartman, J., Sudo, Y., & Wexler, K. (2012, October). Principle B and phonologically reduced pronouns in child English. Paper presented at the fifth Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition, North America [GALANA 5], University of Kansas.
  • Hesketh, L. J., & Chapman, R. S. (1998). Verb use by individuals with Down syndrome.American Journal of Mental Retardation, 103, 288–304.
  • Hornstein, N. (2001). Move! A minimalist theory of construal. Oxford, United Kingdom: Blackwell.
  • Iatridou, S. (1988). An anaphor not bound in its governing category.Linguistic Inquiry, 17, 766–772.
  • Joffe, V., & Varlokosta, S. (2007). Patterns of syntactic development in children with Williams syndrome and Down’s syndrome: Evidence from passives and wh-questions.Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 21, 705–727.
  • Laws, G., & Bishop, D. V. M. (2003). A comparison of language abilities in adolescents with Down syndrome and children with specific language impairment.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, l4, 1324–1339.
  • Martin, G., Klusek, J., Estigarribia, B., & Roberts, J. E. (2009). Language characteristics of individuals with Down syndrome.Topics in Language Disorders, 29, 112–132.
  • Mavrogiorgos, M. (2010). Clitics in Greek. A minimalist account of proclisis and enclisis. Amsterdam, the Netherlands: John Benjamins.
  • McKee, C. (1992). A comparison of pronouns and anaphors in Italian and English acquisition.Language Acquisition, 2, 21–54.
  • Miller, J. F. (1999). Profiles of language development in children with Down syndrome.In J. F. Miller, M. Leddy, & & L. A. Leavitt (Eds.), Improving the communication of people with Down syndrome (pp. 11–40). Baltimore, MD: Brookes.
  • Perovic, A. (2001). Binding principles in Down syndrome.UCL Working Papers in Linguistics, 13, 423–455.
  • Perovic, A. (2006). Syntactic deficit in Down syndrome: More evidence for the modular organization of language.Lingua, 116, 1616–1630.
  • Perovic, A. (2008). A cross-linguistic analysis of binding in Down syndrome.In P. Guijarro-Fuentes, M. P. Larrañaga, & & J. Clibbens (Eds.), First language acquisition of morphology and syntax (pp. 235–267). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: John Benjamins.
  • Philip, W., & Coopmans, P. (1996). The double Dutch delay of principle B effect.In A. Springfellow, D. Cahana-Amitay, E. Hughes, & & A. Zukowski (Eds.), Proceedings of the 20th Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 629–642). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
  • Reuland, E. (2001). Primitives of binding.Linguistic Inquiry, 32, 439–492.
  • Ring, M., & Clahsen, H. (2005). Distinct patterns of language impairment in Down’s syndrome and Williams syndrome: The case of syntactic chains.Journal of Neurolinguistics, 18, 479–501.
  • Rondal, J., & Comblain, A. (2002). Language in ageing persons with Down syndrome.Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 8, 1–9.
  • Rubin, M. (2006). The passive in adolescents with Down syndrome: A case study.Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 11, 88–96.
  • Rutter, T., & Buckley, S. (1994). The acquisition of grammatical morphemes in children with Down’s syndrome.Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 2, 76–82.
  • Sanoudaki, E. (2004). Bilingual first language acquisition: On the acquisition of pronominal reference by Greek-English bilingual children.In Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference of Greek Linguistics. Crete, Greece: University of Crete. ISBN: 960-88268-0-2.
  • Sanoudaki, E., & Varlokosta, S. (2012). Binding in Greek: The importance of task selection.In Z. Gavriilidou, A. Efthymiou, E. Thomadaki, & & P. Kambakis-Vougiouklis (Eds.), Selected papers of the 10th International Conference of Greek Linguistics (pp. 1100–1109). Komotini, Greece: Democritus University of Thrace. Available from http://www.icgl.gr/en.html
  • Sanoudaki, E., & Varlokosta, S. (2013). Comprehension of pronominal elements in Down syndrome: The role of age. Manuscript submitted for publication.
  • Sanoudaki, E., & Varlokosta, S. (in press). Task effects in the interpretation of pronouns.Language Acquisition.
  • Sigurjónsdóttir, S., & Hyams, N. (1992). Reflexivization and logophoricity: Evidence from the acquisition of Icelandic.Language Acquisition, 2, 359–413.
  • Stathopoulou, N. (2009). The linguistic profile of Greek individuals with Down Syndrome: Evidence from syntactic and morphological phenomena. Doctoral dissertation, University of Essex.
  • Stavrakaki, S., & Tsimpli, I. M. (2000). Diagnostic verbal IQ test for Greek preschool and school age children: Standardization, statistical analysis, psychometric properties.In Proceedings of the Eighth Symposium of the Panhellenic Association of Logopedists (pp. 95–106). Athens, Greece: Ellinika Grammata.
  • Thordardottir, E., Chapman, R., & Wagner, L. (2002). Complex sentence production by adolescents with Down syndrome.Applied Psycholinguistics, 23, 163–183.
  • Varlokosta, S. (2000). Lack of clitic pronoun distinctions in the acquisition of principle B in child Greek.In S. C. Howell, S. A. Fish, & & T. Keith-Lucas (Eds.), Proceedings of the 24th Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 738–748). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
  • Varlokosta, S. (2001). On the acquisition of pronominal and reflexive reference in child Greek.In M. Almgren, A. Barreña, M.-J. Ezeizabarrena, I. Idiazabal, & & B. MacWhinney (Eds.), Research on child language acquisition (pp. 1383–1400). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
  • Varlokosta, S. (2002). (A)symmetries in the acquisition of principle B in typically-developing and specifically language impaired (SLI) children.In I. Lasser (Εd.), The process of language acquisition (pp. 81–98). Berlin, Germany: Peter Lang Verlag.
  • Varlokosta, S., & Dullaart, J. (2001). The acquisition of pronominal reference by Greek-Dutch bilingual children: Evidence for early grammar differentiation and autonomous development in bilingual first language acquisition.In Proceedings of the 25th Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 780–791). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
  • Varlokosta, S., & Nerantzini, M. (2012). Pronominal and anaphoric reference in Greek specific language impairment.In Z. Gavriilidou, A. Efthymiou, E. Thomadaki, & & P. Kambakis-Vougiouklis (Eds.), Selected papers of the 10th International Conference on Greek Linguistics (pp. 584–591). Komotini, Greece: Democritus University of Thrace. Available from http://www.icgl.gr/en.html
  • Wexler, K., & Chien, Y.-C. (1985). The development of lexical anaphors and pronouns.Papers and Reports on Child Language Development, 24, 138–149.

Additional Resources