van Doornik, Anniek, Gerrits, P.A.M., McLeod, Sharynne & Terband, H.R. (2018). Impact of communication partner familiarity and speech accuracy on parents’ ratings of their child for the Intelligibility in Context Scale: Dutch. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 20(3), 350-360. https://doi.org/10.1080/17549507.2018.1472808
Purpose: The aim of this study was to examine the role of familiarity of a communication partner on Dutch parents’ perception of their child’s intelligibility, for children with typically-developing speech (TD) or speech sound disorder (SSD).
Method: Participants were 67 Dutch-speaking children (48–84 months), 48 with TD and 19 with SSD. Item scores on the parent-rated Intelligibility in Context Scale: Dutch (ICS-NL) were compared between groups and related to naive listeners’ ratings of children’s intelligibility (IR), and a measure of speech accuracy (i.e. percentage of consonants correct-adjusted, PCC-A).
Result: Statistical analysis yielded a significant Group by Familiarity interaction on the ICS-NL. Parents rated the intelligibility of their child with SSD as higher with more familiar communication partners than less familiar, more so than parents of children with TD. In the SSD group, IR was more strongly correlated with ICS-NL item scores for less familiar partners. PCC-A was only correlated with ICS-NL item 7 (strangers).
Conclusion: Parents perceive their children as more intelligible with people in close relationships, likely due to their higher familiarity with the child’s speech. Children’s relationships should be considered with respect to communicative participation. PCC-A may be a less reliable predictor of participation in family and community life.
Grama, I., & Wijnen, F. (2018). Learning and generalizing non-adjacent dependencies in 18-month-olds: A Mechanism for language acquisition? PLoS ONE, 13(10):e0204481. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0204481
The ability to track non-adjacent dependencies (the relationship between ai and bi in an aiXbistring) has been hypothesized to support detection of morpho-syntactic dependencies in natural languages (‘The princess is reluctantly kissing the frog’). But tracking such dependencies in natural languages entails being able to generalize dependencies to novel contexts (‘The general is angrily berating his troops’), and also tracking co-occurrence patterns between functional morphemes like is and ing (a class of elements that often lack perceptual salience). We use the Headturn Preference Procedure to investigate (i) whether infants are capable of generalizing dependencies to novel contexts, and (ii) whether they can track dependencies between perceptually non-salient elements in an artificial grammar aXb. Results suggest that 18-month-olds extract abstract knowledge of a_b dependencies between non-salient a and b elements and use this knowledge to subsequently re-familiarize themselves with specific ai_bicombinations. However, they show no evidence of generalizing ai_bi dependencies to novel aiYbi strings.