Comprehension of Third Person Singular /s/ in AAE-Speaking Children Purpose: This investigation examined the comprehension of third person singular /s/ in 30 African American English (AAE)-speaking children as a subject-number agreement marker on a comprehension task. Method: A comprehension task was presented to 30 typically developing AAE-speaking children between the ages of 4 and 6. The children were randomly ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2005
Comprehension of Third Person Singular /s/ in AAE-Speaking Children
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Valerie E. Johnson, PhD
    University of Connecticut, Storrs, 850 Bolton Road, Unit 1085, Storrs, CT 06269-1085
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2005
Comprehension of Third Person Singular /s/ in AAE-Speaking Children
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, April 2005, Vol. 36, 116-124. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2005/011)
History: Received January 8, 2004 , Revised May 27, 2004 , Accepted August 24, 2004
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, April 2005, Vol. 36, 116-124. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2005/011)
History: Received January 8, 2004; Revised May 27, 2004; Accepted August 24, 2004
Web of Science® Times Cited: 21

Purpose: This investigation examined the comprehension of third person singular /s/ in 30 African American English (AAE)-speaking children as a subject-number agreement marker on a comprehension task.

Method: A comprehension task was presented to 30 typically developing AAE-speaking children between the ages of 4 and 6. The children were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 groups to hear prerecorded counterbalanced stimuli. The comprehension task was designed to mask plurality of subject; therefore, the children had to focus on the verb as an indicator of subject number.

Results: Repeated measure analysis revealed that AAE-speaking children in this investigation did not understand third person singular /s/ as a number agreement marker. An additional analysis, d’ (pronounced "d prime"), indicated that the AAE-speaking children are not sensitive to the third person singular /s/ as a clue to subject number.

Clinical Implications: The inclusion of comprehension tasks of third person singular /s/ to help diagnose language impairment in this population may be problematic.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Acknowledgments are extended to Jill de Villiers and Harry Seymour for their editorial comments. In addition, I am grateful to the students, families, principals, and teachers in the Hartford Public Schools who made the study possible.
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