Syntactic movement in orally trained children with hearing impairment

  • Friedmann N
  • Szterman R
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This study explored the comprehension and production of sentences derived by syntactic movement, in orally trained school-age Hebrew-speaking children with moderate to profound hearing impairment, aged 7;8-9;9 years. Experiments 1 and 2 tested the comprehension of relative clauses and topicalization sentences (with word orders of OVS [object, verb, subject] and OSV [object, subject, verb]) using a sentence-picture matching task. Experiments 3 and 4 tested the production of relative clauses using two elicitation tasks. Experiment 5 tested the comprehension of relative clauses with and without resumptive pronouns. As a group, the children with hearing loss failed to understand object relatives and OVS topicalization sentences. In the production tasks they either avoided producing a sentence with syntactic movement, by using a relative clauses with a resumptive pronoun instead of a gap or by producing a sentence without a relative clause, or produced ungrammatical sentences. They understood correctly object relatives with resumptive pronouns, which are not derived by movement. Both comprehension and production of the hearing-impaired group was significantly different from that of the hearing control group. Individual performance was strongly correlated with the age of intervention: only children who received hearing aids before the age of 8 months performed well in the comprehension tasks. Type of hearing aid, duration of use of a cochlear implant, and degree of hearing loss did not correlate with syntactic comprehension.

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