Applied Psycholinguistics


Elicitation of the passé composé in French preschoolers with and without specific language impairment


a1 Université de Montréal, CHU Sainte-Justine, and CRLMB

a2 McGill University and CRLMB


This study examines inflectional abilities in French-speaking children with specific language impairment (SLI) using a verb elicitation task. Eleven children with SLI and age-matched controls (37–52 months) participated in the experiment. We elicited the passé composé using eight regular and eight irregular high frequency verbs matched for age of acquisition. Children with SLI showed dissimilar productive verb inflection abilities to control children (even when comparing participants with similar verb vocabularies and mean length of utterance in words). Control children showed evidence of overregularization and sensitivity to morphological structure, whereas no such effects were observed in the SLI group. Error patterns observed in the SLI group demonstrate that, at this age, they cannot produce passé composé forms in elicitation tasks, even though some participants used them spontaneously. Either context by itself might therefore be insufficient to fully evaluate productive linguistic abilities in children with SLI.

(Received June 20 2006)

(Accepted January 15 2008)


c1 ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Phaedra Royle, Université de Montréal, Faculté de Médecine, École d'orthophonie et d'audiologie, C.P. 6128, Succursale Centre-Ville, Montréal, Québec H3C 3J7, Canada. E-mail: