The Perception of Lexical Tone Contrasts in Cantonese Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment (SLI)

Anita M.-Y. Wong, Valter Ciocca, Sun Yung
2009 Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research  
Purpose: This study examined the perception of fundamental frequency (f0) patterns by Cantonese children with and without Specific Language Impairment (SLI). Method: Participants were 14 five-year-old children with SLI, 14 age-matched (AM) and 13 four-year-old vocabulary-matched (VM) controls. The children identified a word from familiar word pairs that illustrated the eight minimally contrastive pairs of the six lexical tones. They discriminated the f0 patterns within contrastive tonal pairs
more » ... speech and nonspeech stimuli. Results: In tone identification, the SLI group performed worse than the AM but not the VM group. In tone discrimination, the SLI group did worse than the AM group on two contrasts, and showed a non-significant trend of poorer performance on all contrasts combined. The VM group generally did worse than the AM group. There were no group differences in discrimination performance between speech and non-speech stimuli. No correlation was found between identification and discrimination performance. Only the normal controls showed a moderate correlation between vocabulary scores and performance in the two perception tasks. Conclusion: The SLI group's poor tone identification cannot be accounted for by vocabulary knowledge alone. The group's tone discrimination performance suggests that some children with SLI have a deficit in f0 processing.
doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/08-0170) pmid:19951926 fatcat:tmr55aaorjelxg2xvaucwqn6mm