Many English-speaking children with specific language impairment have been found to be especially weak in their use of grammatical morphology. In a separate literature, many children meeting the same subject description have shown significant limitations on tasks involving the perception of rapid acoustic changes. In this study, we attempted to determine whether there were parallels between the grammatical morphological limitations of children with specific language impairment and their performance profiles across several perceptual contrasts. Because most English grammatical morphemes have shorter durations relative to adjacent morphemes in the speech stream, we hypothesized that children with specific language impairment would be especially weak in discriminating speech stimuli whose contrastive portions had shorter durations than the noncontrastive portions. Results from a group of eight children with specific language impairment with documented morphological difficulties confirmed these predictions. Several possible accounts of the observed morphology-perception parallels are offered.
ASJC Scopus subject areas