Language Competence across Populations: Toward a Definition of Specific Language Impairment

Language Competence across Populations: Toward a Definition of Specific Language Impairment

Language Competence across Populations: Toward a Definition of Specific Language Impairment

Language Competence across Populations: Toward a Definition of Specific Language Impairment

Synopsis

This unique, edited book bridges studies in language disorders and linguistic theory with timely contributions from leading scholars in language development. It presents an attempt to define Specific Language Impairment, relating it to children of normal and disordered language capabilities. The chapter presentations examine language development across a variety of populations of children, from those with Specific Language Impairment to second language learners. The contributors discuss criteria for the definition of SLI, compare and contrast SLI with profiles of children with other disorders and dialects, and offer a comprehensive look at the Whole Human Language, which ties together spoken and signed languages. Methodological concerns that affect the credibility and generalizability of the findings are discussed and controversies between opposing linguistic approaches to language acquisition are presented. The conceptual thread that gradually reveals itself as the chapters unfold is a theoretical issue of central importance to cognitive theory, as well as to our understanding of the biological correlates of language-it concerns the variability that linguistic competence can manifest in children under different biological conditions and life circumstances. Language Competence Across Populations: Toward a Definition of Specific Language Impairment is an essential volume for advanced students and scholars in linguistics and psychology who have an interest in language acquisition and language disorders, as well as for the clinical professionals dealing with children with language impairments.

Excerpt

In spring 2000, the people whose work appears in this volume gathered in the majestic city of Jerusalem for a workshop on language development across populations. The title of the volume is indicative of the approach that characterized the meeting. Our main concern was the variability seen in human linguistic competence across populations of children, yet a major focus of our discussion was the phenomenon of specific language impairment (SLI). Although we acknowledge the challenges posed by SLI to our understanding of the structure and function of human linguistic competence, we also pay close attention to data concerning other populations of children that suggest points of similarities with the classical SLI profile. The composition of the chapters in this volume attests to this dual focus: More than half the chapters are concerned with SLI, but the remainder (a little less than half, yet still quite close in number) concentrates on language in other nonstandard populations of children.

This volume brings to the fore intriguing findings concerning language development in the populations studied. It discusses criteria for the definition of SLI, compares and contrasts SLI with profiles of children with other disorders and dialects, and offers a comprehensive look on human language, which ties together spoken and sign languages. Methodological concerns that affect the credibility and generalizibility of the findings are discussed and controversies between opposing linguistic approaches to acquisition are presented. The common thread that gradually reveals itself is a theoretical issue of central importance to cognitive theory, as well . . .

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