Comprehension of welcher-questions in German-speaking children with and without Developmental Language Disorder

Anne-Dorothee Roesch, Vicky Chondrogianni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: This study examined whether monolingual German-speaking preschool children with developmental language disorder (DLD) were facilitated by the presence of case-marking cues in their interpretation of German subject and object welcher (“which”)-questions, as reported for their TLD peers. We also examined whether knowledge of case-marking and/or phonological working memory modulated children’s ability to revise early assigned interpretations to ambiguous questions.
Method: 63 monolingual German-speaking children with and without DLD aged between 4;0 and 5;11 years participated in an offline picture selection task targeting the comprehension of welcher questions in German. We manipulated question type (subject, object), case-marking transparency,and case-marking position within the question (sentence-initial/-final).
Results: The TLD children outperformed children with DLD across conditions, and all children performed better on subject than on object wh-questions. Transparent and early cues elicited higher accuracy than late-arriving cues. For the DLD children, their working memory capacity explained their inability to revise early assigned interpretations to ambiguous questions, whereas their knowledge of case did not.
Conclusions: The results suggest that disambiguating morphosyntactic cues can only partly facilitate comprehension of German welcher-questions in children with DLD, whose poor phonological working memory rather than their knowledge of case-marking mediates performance on these structures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1683 - 1695
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Volume64
Issue number5
Early online date22 Apr 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

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