The SYNTAX section of the DELV: Theory and Examples Thomas Roeper UMass, Amherst [email protected] Barbara Z. Pearson UMass, Amherst [email protected] *supported by NIH grant N01-DC-8-2104 to the University of Massachusetts and Smith College *webpage: www.umass.edu/aae/ The DELV SYNTAX Domain • • • • • • Focuses on a few core concepts of modern syntax Introduces elements of complexity (to reveal hidden knowledge) From these principles, we make the following predictions/claims: 1. A new range of higher level disorders come into view. 2. These disorders are particularly pertinent to school-level tasks. Components of The DELV SYNTAX Domain Question Type WH-QUESTION COMPREHENSION PASSIVES ARTICLES Core Concepts Variables Movement Movement Hidden properties Discourse properties (something in a prior sentence making requirements on an element in a subsequent sentence) Core CONCEPT #1 IN SYNTAX on the DELV • • • • • • I. Principles of MOVEMENT Simple: “I saw a boy, a girl, and a dog.” => “What did I see ( - ) ?” Complex: What did she say she saw ( - )? • Does the child get complex movement right? • Core Syntactic Concept #1 on the DELV (con’t) Does the child know… 1. Where the WH word originates What did he eat ( - )? When did she say ( - ) she lost her purse (- )? 2. When certain structures "block" certain meanings: Ex. When did she say how she lost her purse? can only mean "when did she SAY it” not “When did she lose it?” Core Syntactic CONCEPT #2 on the DELV • • • • • • • • • • II. VARIABLES (words that are intended to refer not to a single referent, but to members of a set) Examples: Simple Question (1 variable) . (“I saw a boy, a girl, and a dog.”) “What did I see?” “what” = set of objects (boy, girl, dog) “Who was at dinner?” “who” = the 5 or 6 individuals at dinner Core Syntactic CONCEPT #2 on the DELV (con’t) • • • • • • II. b. Complex Variables 2 variables in the same sentence: “who bought what?” requires reference to all the members in the 2 sets in an ordered relation: Person 1 bought Thing 1 Person 2 bought Thing 2 Does the child get variable properties right? Core Syntactic CONCEPT #2 on the DELV (con’t) Does the child know how to answer Double WHquestions: Who ate what? How did she play what? Requires “set” answers to BOTH questions (he and she, chocolate and vanilla) Not just listed, but PAIRED. Ex. HE ate CHOCOLATE, and SHE ate VANILLA. Testing Complex WH-Question Comprehension We test this: 1) Can children answer both parts of a double-WH? 2) Can children answer questions whose site of origin is far away (long distance)? and 3) Can children appropriately block meanings that the grammar doesn’t allow, i.e.when there is a barrier? Wh-Question Comprehension: Testing Procedure The child is told a brief story about a pictured event. They are then asked the key test question about some aspect of the event. The pictured events and stories support several possible interpretations of the question. Wh-Question Comprehension: Testing Procedure Example of Questions involving VARIABLES This girl played different things in different ways. She played the drums with her feet and the piano with her hands. How did the girl play what? Copyrighted Picture Omitted c. The Psychological Corporation This father and this baby were having lunch together. Who ate what? Copyrighted Picture Omitted c. The Psychological Corporation Typical Answers to double WH questions PAIRED, EXHAUSTIVE responses Ex. She played the piano with her hands and the drums with her feet. SINGLETONS (Incorrect) One element: “piano” “with her feet” Both objects, no instruments: “piano and drums” One pair: “the piano with her hands.” OTHER “She played a lot.” “She was playing.” Double-WH Example Responses from field testing CHILD A (12663) CHILD B (18221) Feet and her hands She played the piano with her hands and the drums with her feet. Instruments xx only 0 points Paired and exhaustive 1 point Double-WH Example 2 CHILD A (12663) CHILD B (18221) Ball, a yoyo The girl played with the yoyo, the boy played with the balloon Objects only Paired and exhaustive 0 points 1 point Double-WH Example 3 CHILD A (12663) CHILD B (18221) Banana and a apple The dad ate the apple, the baby ate the nana. Objects only Paired and exhaustive 0 points 1 point Double WH Response Types by Age and Language Status (N = 1014, 708 Typically Developing, 306 Language Impaired) Fig. 1b. Double WH Response Types 1 Not Paired 0.8 OTHER-LI 0.6 Paired Exhaustive 0.4 Not Paired-LI 0.2 Paired Exhaustive-LI 0 4 5 6 Age Yrs 7 8 9 Item Type 2: Long Distance Movement with False Embedded Clause (False Clause) This mother snuck out one night when her little girl was asleep and bought a surprise birthday cake. The next day the little girl saw the bag from the store and asked, “What did you buy?” The mom wanted to keep the surprise until later so she said, “ Just some paper towels.” -- What did the mom say she bought? Copyrighted Picture Omitted c. The Psychological Corporation Typical Answers to “False Clause” questions LONG DISTANCE (LD) TWO CLAUSE responses Ex. She said she bought paper towels. ONE CLAUSE responses (Incorrect) Ex. (She bought) a birthday cake. OTHER “a surprise” “a bag” “I don’t know.” WH-False Clause Example Responses from field testing CHILD A (12663) CHILD B (18221) A cake Paper towels 1 clause answer 0 points 2-clause answer (long distance) 1 point LD False Clause Response Types by Age and Language Status (N = 1014) Fig. 3 WH "False Clause" Response Types by Age and Language Status 1 clauseTD 1 LD 2 clauses-TD 0.8 0.6 OTHER-LI 0.4 0.2 1-clauseTD 0 4 5 6 Age Yrs 7 8 9 LD 2 clauses-LI Item Type 3 Barrier to Long Distance Movement Note: Children’s ability to give LD answers (without embedded false clause) was tested in piloting and then in the DSLT Tryout testing. 90% of the children ages 4-6 and 95% of the children 7-10 gave at least one Long Distance answer, so for reasons of time, simple Long Distance items do not appear on the DELV. This mom didn’t know how to bake a cake. She saw a TV program about cooking, and she learned to make a lovely cake with pudding mix. -- How did the mom learn what to bake? Copyrighted Picture Omitted c. The Psychological Corporation Typical Answers toWH-barriers questions SHORT DISTANCE responses (How did she learn…?) By watching TV.. MEDIAL ANSWERS (Incorrect) (…what to bake?) “a cake” LONG DISTANCE responses (Incorrect) (How…..bake?) “With a pudding mix,” “With a spoon” OTHER Ex. “She didn’t know how.” WH-barrier Example Responses 2 Who did she ask what to buy? CHILD A (12663) CHILD B (18221) bologna The grocery store lady Medial Short Distance 0 points 1 point WH Barrier Response Types by Age and Language Status (N = 1014) WH "Barriers" Response Types by Age and Language Status 1 0.8 Short Distance-TD Short Distance-LI 0.6 Medial-TD 0.4 Medial-LI OTHER-li 0.2 0 4 5 6 Age Yrs 7 8 9 Other WH Example Responses CHILD A (12663) 2 correct barriers, 2 barrier violations 1 other CHILD B (18221) 4 correct barriers 1 medial 2 points (of 5) 4 points (of 5) Total:4 of 14 Total: 12 of 14 Who are these children? CHILD A (12663) 5 years old White Female From South Parents w/ HS education Mainstream English speaker Not receiving speech or language services CHILD B (18221) 4 years old African American boy From “north Central” US Parents w/ HS education “Some difference” from MAE” Not receiving speech or language services Also on the DELV: PASSIVES: TESTING for HIDDEN INFORMATION Does the child distinguish these two sentences? Ex. The ball dropped The ball was dropped => hidden AGENT ARTICLES: TESTING REQUIREMENTS OF DISCOURSE PROPERTIES Does the child carry information from one sentence into another? Ex. A bird flew out of a cage because something was open? What was it? THE door (nor A door) Has the child learned to interpret articles as reference to context? • Similar analyses and profiles emerge for Passives and Articles as well. Conclusions We have shown that the assessment of complex aspects of children’s syntactic development between the ages of 4 and 9 can be carried out in a dialect neutral fashion. These materials and procedures capture the development of several aspects of language that are vital for success in early schooling and the transition to literacy. They provide the clinician with a substantial profile of the child language strengths and weaknesses, not just a diagnostic categorization. As such they provide a much richer evaluation of language variation and its sources that has direct implications for areas and methods of intervention.