Wh-questions in Swedish children with SLI

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This is an exploratory study of the use of wh-questions in Swedish children with typical and impaired language development. Swedish is a verb-second (V2) language where inverted word order is not unique to wh-questions, but occurs in all utterances that begin with a constituent other than the subject. The purpose was to investigate types and frequency patterns in the use of wh-questions, wh-word and verb combinations, and simplifications. Analysis of spontaneous data from 14 Swedish children with SLI, 14 age-matched and 14 MLU-matched controls showed that the children with SLI used the same types of wh-questions and wh-word and verb combinations with similar frequencies as the controls. The most frequent simplification in all groups was omission of the wh-word. The children with SLI tended to make more non-target productions in general than the control groups, but differed significantly in most respects only from the age controls. Non-inversion was found only in the data from the children with SLI, but was less frequent in wh-questions than in non-subject initial declaratives from the same children. Due to a large inter-individual variation conclusions are hard to draw. However, the results clearly show that wh-questions are a structure which is interesting to study cross-linguistically.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-383
JournalInternational Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Other Medical Sciences not elsewhere specified

Free keywords

  • Wh-questions
  • specific language impairment
  • cross-linguistic
  • SLI
  • word order
  • Swedish


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