Argument structure and specific language impairment: retrospect and prospect

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de Jong, Jan
Fletcher, Paul
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University of Groningen
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This article reflects a collaboration between the Universities of Groningen and Reading of which Frans Zwarts was the promoter. One of the outcomes was a close attention to the learning of various aspects of argument structure by children with specific language impairment (SLI) in Dutch and English. At that time and since, the focus on deficits in grammatical morphology in these children has left verb complementation as something of a syntactic Cinderella. Here we review the findings from our studies in the 1990s. We confirm that children with SLI in both languages have problems with verb specificity, with argument structure alternations and with resultative verb predicates. The very limited number of subsequent studies on verb syntax appear to support our findings. We conclude that this is an area which will repay further scrutiny – it is high time argument structure received an invitation to the ball.
Argument structure , Verb syntax , Specific language impairment
de Jong, J. and Fletcher, P. (2014) 'Argument structure and specific language impairment: retrospect and prospect', in Hoeksema J. and Gilbers D. (eds.) Black book: a festschrift in honor of Frans Zwarts. Groningen, the Netherlands: University of Groningen, pp. 218-228.
© 2014, the Authors.