Poor nonword repetition is considered as a clinical marker of specific language impairment (SLI). In children with expressive language problems, the analysis and scoring procedures are often insufficiently described. We argue for a combined analysis of segmental and suprasegmental accuracy in nonword repetition tasks as well as an appreciation of gender differences. The view is taken based on empirical findings in a comparison between children with specific language impairment, children with mild/moderate hearing impairment and hearing aids (HI), and children with severe to profound hearing impairment with cochlear implants (CI). With age and gender taken into consideration, the main effects of both group and syllable level on a combined measure of segmental and suprasegmental accuracy remained. Although not necessarily an index of limited working memory capacity, persistently poor imitation of nonwords might be an indication of language impairment in children with mild/moderate HI and in children with CI.
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