9. The elicited oral production of Italian restrictive relative clauses and cleft sentences in typically developing children and children with developmental dyslexia
Acquisition of Romance Languages
We elicited subject and object restrictive relative clauses and subject and object contrastive cleft sentences in Italian-speaking typically developing (TD) children and in a small group of children affected by developmental dyslexia (henceforth DD) or suspected dyslexia (suspDD), i.e. with evident school difficulties reported by their teachers, but without a diagnosis of DD. Our goal was twofold: first, we aimed at comparing TD children with children with DD or suspDD, in order to verify
... r and to what extent dyslexia affects the oral production of complex syntactic structures and to find out whether one of the two tested structures is more impaired. Second, we aimed at testing Thompson et al.'s (2003) hierarchy of syntactic complexity, by comparing atypically developing children's behaviour with object relatives and object clefts. To our knowledge, this is the first study comparing the elicited production of restrictive relatives and contrastive clefts in Italian-speaking children with DD. As has already been shown for Italian by Guasti (2013) , Zachou et al. (2013) and Guasti et al. (2015), some children with DD present oral deficits similar to children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI). Therefore, we expect to find a divergent pattern of response in at least some of our children with DD. Results suggest that although dyslexic children exhibit the same general pattern of answers as their aged-matched children, some differences in the production of relative clauses may be observed. The same is not found for cleft sentences. According to Thompson et al.'s (2003) Complexity Account of syntactic Treatment Efficacy in aphasia (CATE), object relatives are the most difficult sentence structures to compute for aphasic patients, followed by object clefts and object wh-questions. Our data show that children with DD follow the same pattern of difficulty.