John Grinstead, Paij Lintz, Juliana De la Mora, Myriam Cantú-Sánchez, Blanca Flores
March 1, 2016
The Aspect-First Hypothesis observes that children tend to associate the lexical semantics of predicates with grammatical aspect marking and tense, and children with SLI are known to have problems with tense. A theoretical question raised by these facts is whether the SLI difficulty with tense is limited to morphosyntax, or whether it extends to the lexical semantics implicated in the Aspect-First phenomenon as well. In previous work, children with SLI have been less consistent than controls in their Aspect-First prototypical tense–aspect groupings. In the current project, we study the spontaneous production data of 38 five-year-old monolingual Spanish-speakers in Mexico, half of whom are diagnosed with SLI and half of whom are age-matched controls. We coded the spontaneous production of each child’s 20- to 30-minute language sample for tense, grammatical aspect and lexical aspect to determine: (1) whether each group followed Aspect-First prototypical tense–aspect groupings and (2) whether children in the SLI and TD groups were different from one another in their tense–aspect distributions. Children in both groups appeared to follow the Aspect-First prototypes, in contrast to comprehension findings. SLI children were not significantly different from TD children in their distribution of predicates, as a function of tense and lexical aspect, contra elicited production results from English. Results are discussed in terms of methodological and comprehension-production differences.