Diagnosing Language Variations: Underlying Principles for Syntactic Assessment

Thomas Roeper
2004 Seminars in Speech and Language  
The assessment of complex aspects of children's syntactic development can be carried out in a dialect-neutral fashion. The item types proposed for this purpose encompass wh-questions, passives, and articles, and test the child's understanding of implicit grammatical relations, the rules governing syntactic movement, and discourse linking. We present the rationale for the items and the specific research supporting them, as well as some suggestions for how to help children who fail on the
more » ... to gain a better understanding of them. Learning Outcomes: As a result of this activity, the participant will be able (1) to identify three types of items that can be included in a linguistically fair assessment of syntax, and (2) to identify key concepts important to the development of the syntax items on the proposed assessment. Grasping grammar involves moving to an abstract level that is so natural we do not realize how far it is from common sense. Its naturalness flows from the fact that much of it is innate, like vision. Yet like vision, either big problems (complete blindness) or tiny ones (imperfections of focal length) can be present. The challenge of communication disorders is to identify the deeper factors that lie beyond superficial description. Our presentation does not focus on dialect variation, but rather on those features of English that are constant across dialects. They therefore offer the opportunity for dialect-neutral diagnosis of language disorder. We begin with some simple examples and move to the kinds of sentences that may cause children to face real challenges and may cause real failure Q1 . A linguistically fair syntax assessment can include these item types: wh-questions,
doi:10.1055/s-2004-824825 pmid:15088232 fatcat:grhpt3aw4bgudjsy7eq255gyby