Galit Avivi Ben-Zvi
Tel Aviv University
The present chapter considers knowledge of the morphological class of adjectives in Hebrew-speaking SLI compared with NLA school children. We argue that the domain of derivational morphology is particularly appropriate for the investigation of linguistic disorders in SLI school children because knowledge of obligatory grammatical morphology is so well established and automatic in this age period that it would not serve as a good diagnostic. Derivational morphology, in contrast, is a semiproductive, rich, and complex system, and it demonstrates sufficient semantic and structural diversity to constitute an appropriate diagnostic tool for elementary school age. The category of Hebrew adjectives was selected because it is noncanonical in a number of senses, on the one hand, whereas it maps a variety of meanings onto various types of Hebrew morphological structure, on the other hand.
We focus on derivational adjective formation in SLI and NLA schoolage children with the view to contribute to the debate on the nature of language disorders in children. One view holds that this is a developmental delay relative to children without language disorders. Another view holds that the linguistic system in SLI children is essentially different and deviant from normal development patterns (Leonard, Bortolini, Caselli, McGregor, & Sabbadini, 1992). This chapter shows that SLI school children have serious problems in processing the internal structure of Hebrew adjectives and in using morphological cues in both comprehension and production.