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Cypriot Greek Down syndrome : their grammar and its interfaces Christodoulou, Christa


This dissertation investigates the linguistic performance of 16 Cypriot Greek individuals diagnosed with Down Syndrome (henceforth, CGDS), aged 19;0 to 45;11, and compares their performance to 17 Cypriot Greek Typically Developing Children (hereafter, CGTDC), aged 7;0 to 8;11. Three hypotheses were tested to determine whether the differences between the two groups, as well as the Grammar of Cypriot Greek adults with typical development (henceforth, CGTD) were: (i) syntactically, (ii) morphologically, or (iii) phonetically and phonologically conditioned. When consulting previous research, a number of shortcomings were observed. Therefore, an innovative methodology was employed to address these issues. Contrary to previous research, which argues for an overall inflectional impairment (either syntactically or morphologically conditioned), this dissertation establishes that the vast majority of differences between the two groups are phonetically conditioned. These differences are due to the distinct physiology of the articulation apparatus in CGDS. Furthermore, a small number of phonologically conditioned differences were either due to (i) the phonological environment (syllable structure and word-position) or (ii) phonological feature underspecification. However, there is also a very small residue of differences that are morphologically conditioned. When a produced feature value does not match the target, CGDS and CGTDC exhibit the same three strategies: (i) use of an alternative feature value (as the default) to the targeted one, (ii) affix drop and (iii) full-word omission. I propose a unified analysis, according to which the morphological differences between CGDS, CGTDC and CGTD are due to a failure of Blocking. The competition between a phonetic exponent that includes (i) all feature values resulting from the syntactic derivation, and (ii) a subset of the features, but no contrasting features, fails to be resolved in favour of the most specified form. I further propose that this may be extended to phonological features. Finally, I propose that full-word and phoneme omissions suggest a problem with vocabulary or sound insertion, which may be rooted in phonological and verbal short-term memory limitations. In sum, I argue that the adult CGDS Grammar is not an impaired version of the adult CGTD Grammar.

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