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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Temporality in the narratives of children with Specific Language Impairment and typically developing children Driver, Thyra


Purpose: This study examined the use of linguistic devices to express time— temporality –in the narrative productions of a group of children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) compared to typically developing (TD) peers. Method: Participants formed two age-matched groups of 5- to 8-year-old children (SLI, n = 28; TD, n = 28; M age = 6 years;10 months). Each child produced two narratives from multi-episode wordless picture books that were transcribed and coded for temporal grammatical and lexical markers: past or present tense (e.g., jumps, jumped), simple or progressive aspect (built, was building), aspectual verbs (e.g., start, finish), connectors (e.g., and then, before, while), and other temporal expressions (e.g., later, again, suddenly, quite a while). Results: Children with SLI showed differences in expressing temporality using grammatical markers compared to TD peers. The children with SLI had more tense omissions in obligatory tense marking contexts (e.g., The frog *jump) and more frequent unmotivated tense shifting. As a result, fewer children with SLI used a consistent verb tense throughout their narratives, i.e., an anchor tense. Nonetheless, both groups used the past tense more often than the present tense, and children who had an anchor tense tended to tell their stories in the past. Both groups showed a preference for using simple over progressive aspect. Present progressive forms, which are generally associated with a picture-description mode, were in the minority for both groups. The children with SLI did, however, produce fewer complex progressive forms (e.g., he tries finding) compared to TD peers. Regarding lexical markers of temporality, the groups generally performed similarly in terms of the frequency of use of aspectual verbs, sequential or simultaneous temporal connectors, and other temporal expressions. Conclusion: This study highlights that 5- to 8 year-old children with SLI showed a relative strength in their use of lexical compared to grammatical markers of temporality in narratives they produced from wordless picture books. This study adds to the limited research on temporarily in narratives of children with or without SLI. It has implications for interventionists and educators who use narrative production for assessment and intervention.

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