A number representing the real part of the complex number. In this paper we are concerned with complements that serve as the object of the main clause. It accounted for 6% of the variance in TROG-2 score (r2 = 0.06 p = 0.009). No child from the DS or CI samples achieved this level of performance, and only five children (15%) from the TD group did this well. It is essential for clinicians to support young children's complex syntax development. Children in the current study ranged in chronological age from 6;10 to 11;08, with an average mental age of 6;7 years, while those in the Thordardottir sample were adolescents spanning a chronological age range of 12;5 to 20;4 years; we are not given information on their mental ages. Overall, the results showed that the DS group performed more poorly on the majority of the test sentences than both control groups. Read more on English sentence structure. In addition, although children with DS have increased risk of a number of difficulties likely to influence their language development (involving limited cognitive ability, hearing level and memory skills) the relationship between these factors and language competence is not straightforward and has never been investigated in relation to the complex syntactic abilities of this population. However, although the estimate of proportion of variance accounted for differed between the two tests, the confidence intervals of the estimates overlapped, and the estimates were high for both TECS-E and TROG-2. A limited production of passives has also been reported (Bridges & Smith, 1984; Fowler, 1990; Ring & Clahsen, 2005). Complex syntax refers to developmentally advanced grammatical structures that mark a “literate,” or decontextualized, language style (Paul, 1995). We then compared the two groups with intellectual disability and included age in the model with sentence verification as the dependent measure. Our final prediction relates to the question of whether cognitive and memory variables would account for more of the variance in children’s performance on the multiple-choice comprehension task (TROG-2) than on TECS-E. This is because the written mode of expression occupies a privileged cognitive position for maturely literate individuals, involving the ability to control and shape the flow of information in discourse through linguistic means, while viewing the text as a whole. Syntactically simple sentences are presented first followed by those that are more complex. Two measures were taken from each of the digit recall tasks: (a) the number of trials in which the participant successfully recalled all the items in their correct serial order (span); (b) the number of trials in which the participant recalled all the items in each set presented, regardless of the order (accuracy). There are also examples of the videos available on YouTube (with links integrated in the Methods) to facilitate replication of the study. This study examines the emergence of complex syntax in interlanguage (IL) development through a functionalist analysis of longitudinal, conversational IL data from two Vietnamese learners of English. The cat wants to dance) in 30 Greek Cypriot bilectal adolescents with DS. Nevertheless, the results are consistent with a more controlled comparison of multiple-choice vs sentence verification methods by Frizelle et al. Much of the work in relation to syntax has focussed on expressive language and primarily on spontaneous language production. For the adverbial because, non-match items were represented by depicting the event as it was described by both verbs, but not causally (e.g. 2) Those with DS will perform more poorly overall than TD controls but at a similar level to those with cognitive impairment of unknown origin. Description of the videos included in the sentence verification task. Examples of correct and non-match complement clause animations are available at https://youtu.be/OM27lMM4zPs and https://youtu.be/yPBQP14VjFA, respectively. Solid syntactic skills require an understanding and use of correct word order and organization in phrases and sentences and also the ability to use increasingly complex sentences as language develops. Within the five types of relative clause we expected children to have the least difficulty with intransitive subject relatives, with other relative clause types being of a similar level of difficulty. Syntax is a part of linguistics that is involved in the study of sentence structure. A diagnosis of DS is given when an error in cell development results in an extra copy of chromosome 21, so there are 47 chromosomes rather than the usual 46. Previous studies have tended to use multiple-choice tasks that have a heavy cognitive load and make demands beyond the linguistic. The participant was required to recall the location of the monsters by touching the appropriate leaves on the screen. More surprising was the independent contribution of DS status over and above poor memory skills, which indicates that the language difficulties of children with DS go beyond those usually associated with limited memory and nonverbal ability. In relation to adverbial clauses they performed best on the causal adverbial because and found the conditional adverbial if the most difficult to understand. We would like to thank the children with Down syndrome who took part in the project and their parents and teachers who facilitated data collection. Given the additional executive demands of multiple-choice comprehension tasks (Frizelle et al., 2017) we anticipated that this would be the case. The design of those that do not match was dependant on the structure being assessed. One view of a child with poor comprehension of syntax is that their situation is similar to a competent adult who has to cope in a foreign country where they only have a weak grasp of the language: they will recognise individual words and create what sense they can from them in the context, but fail to understand more complex meanings conveyed by the word sequence. Specifically, by using a newly devised animation task, Frizelle and colleagues test three groups of children, namely, one group of 33 children with DS and two control groups composed of i) 32 children with cognitive impairment of unknown aetiology (CI) and ii) 33 children showing typical development. Although it is tempting to consider cognitive ability as a core factor in explaining receptive language differences between those with DS and other groups, the literature is not consistent in this regard, particularly in relation to vocabulary. The relative clauses were all full bi-clausal relatives, each attached to the direct object of a transitive clause. They are usually defined according to (a) the sentential position of the modified noun phrase and (b) the role of the relativized noun phrase in the embedded clause. Within the past 4 years, you have held joint grants, published or collaborated with any of the authors of the selected paper. Discussion: If rich linguistic inputs are not available for children during the critical period of the first language acquisition, the syntactic skill, especially in complex syntactic constructions, will not normally develop. Please disclose any competing interests that might be construed to influence your judgment of the article's or peer review report's validity or importance. Where the animations matched the given sentence, the action was carried out on the head noun as expected (in this case the girl he threw the ball to). This shows that these children’s understanding of syntax is not completely explained by poor cognitive or verbal memory skills (as measured here) and that a specific deficit understanding syntactic structures (even in children functioning in the borderline range of cognitive ability) may distinguish those with DS from other neurodevelopmental disorders. Using the TROG-2 as the receptive language measure, studies such as those by Finestack et al. Other studies have reported deficits in syntactic comprehension in individuals with DS, (see Fortunato-Tavares et al., 2015; Michael et al., 2012; Perovic, 2006; Ring & Clahsen, 2005) however, the range of structures investigated is narrow and complex syntax has been given little or no attention. Of the 20 blocks, 10 focus on simple sentences (for example, of the form SV, SVO, SVC and SVA), 1 block on reversible passives, 3 blocks on co-ordination, and the remaining 6 blocks focus on complex sentences. On the surface, one subtest from the TACL-R (Carrow-Woolfolk, 1985) on which the authors reported (Elaborated Sentences) is particularly relevant to the current study, as it includes complex sentences in its target structures (approximately 50% of the constructions are complex). 1) Internal consistency of TECS-E was calculated to give an index of reliability. Total scores were calculated for each child and for each construction type. In a complement clause, the embedded sentence serves as one of the arguments of the verb in the matrix clause (Quirk et al., 1985). Example test sentences for each structure are shown in Table 3. John had significant issues with syntax and grammar and I needed to back up and address those issues before he could benefit from high-level comprehension strategies. Within the complement clause constructions assessed, wish and pretend presented the least difficulty and think constructions were most difficult for children to understand. To avoid floor effects only those with a non-verbal mental age of 3;06 years and above on the Leiter International Performance Scale 3rd Edition (Leiter-3) (Roid et al., 2013) were included and children were required to be capable of producing 3-word utterances at a minimum. After reading articles like this one by Nippold (2017) or this one by Gillon and Dodd (1995) ; I finally started to understand what I may have missed in many cases over the years similar to John’s. It is, accordingly, not possible to tease out the potential contribution of the complex constructions included in these tests to the scores achieved. In this analysis we calculated the proportion of children in each group that passed each construction on the sentence verification task (shown in Table 8), where a pass was defined as a score of 7 or 8 out of 8 items correct. Some studies have compared those with DS to mental-age-matched TD controls, while others have matched cognitive ability with other cognitively impaired groups such as those with Williams syndrome, Fragile X syndrome and those with specific language impairment. There is the possibility of response bias when completing a task that requires a yes/no response, whereby the child may always give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response when they do not understand the construction presented. For the purposes of this study, we always administered block S from TROG-2 at the end of the test, even when the stopping criterion was reached. For the current study, we used eight animations for each structure i.e. These are deemed to be the earliest bi-clausal relative clause construction to emerge in young children’s expressive language (Diessel, 2004) and the easiest for children to repeat (Diessel & Tomasello, 2005; Frizelle & Fletcher, 2014) and to understand (Frizelle et al., 2018a). (2018a) found a consistent benefit for the sentence-verification method for young children, and we suggested this reflected the fact that sentences are presented in a manner more reflective of how we process language in natural discourse, with fewer processing and memory demands than in a multiple-choice test. Based on findings that individuals with DS produced relative and complement clauses in their narrative samples (Thordardottir et al., 2002), we hypothesised that many of those with DS would be able to understand these constructions, although, on the basis of prior literature, we anticipated considerable performance variation. This finding is also consistent with expressive acquisition data, (Diessel, 2004) showing that when children start to produce full bi-clausal relatives, the majority are of the intransitive subject form. This study examines the emergence of complex syntax in interlanguage (IL) development through a functionalist analysis of longitudinal, conversational IL … We also examined how children performed on TECS-E relative to a standardized test of grammar using the multiple-choice format. This block of four items uses relative clauses attached to a main clause object, two of which are similar in construction to those used in the TECS-E (albeit with some lexical differences—a noun rather that a pronoun in the head noun position: The girl chases the dog that is jumping) and two of which incorporate prepositional phrases (The cup that is on the box is red). We had anticipated that our subsequent analyses would incorporate the additional predictors of memory and hearing level, giving a total of five predictors. However, as the authors note, the question of complex syntax understanding in Down syndrome is one that deserves further investigation; researchers believe that receptive and expressive syntax is an area of relative weakness but are still not clear on the extent of difficulties in this area. Pronominal subjects were also included in the indirect object and oblique clause structures, again to reflect structures used in natural discourse. These competing interpretations are presented so that only children with a deep understanding of the construction will chose the correct item. With the exception of 5 children with DS who attended special schools, all others attended mainstream schools. 3) Children will have greater difficulty understanding comparable constructions on the multiple-choice test than on the animation task. The view guiding this study is that complex syntax is rhetorical syntax, organizing the flow of information in a piece of discourse. The 95% confidence intervals overlapped (TECS-E: 0.576–0.775; TROG-2: 0.656–0.823), indicating that the difference in magnitude between the estimates was not reliable. However, we also expected to be able to drop one predictor, depending on the results of our first analysis. It is therefore likely that the participants were not tested on many complex sentences. Each dataset is enclosed by a smoothed density plot. The study was conducted between November 2017 and May 2018, in the Republic of Ireland, where the prevalence of DS is one in every 546 live births (Johnson et al., 1996). This resulted in 33 children with DS participating in the study. The Cork Teaching Hospitals Ethics Committee granted ethical approval for the study (ECM 4-07/10/14). As we expected, our results show the impact of increased attention and memory demands to be particularly pertinent for the children with a cognitive impairment, who are likely to be disadvantaged using this assessment approach, in that the methodology is confounding their linguistic knowledge with other factors. We should be careful not to over-interpret this finding, given that different sentences were used in the two assessments. The parameter estimates from the final model (Table 4) can be found in Table 5. Nevertheless, Frizelle et al. The girl sang and the woman shrieked because they were excited. More on categories of analysis and on findings as we proceed. The format used in the TACL-R and TROG-2 is the traditional multiple-choice sentence picture-matching presentation, where the goal is to select from an array the picture that matches a spoken sentence. The effect number of predictors would therefore be four, with a required total sample size of 86. Children were simultaneously presented with each animation and a pre-recorded sentence orally. Complex syntax The term ‘complex sentence’ is used to refer to constructions that have more than one clause, linked in specific ways. because) connectives. The aim of these comparisons is to see whether there is a distinctive profile specific to those with DS relative to other groups who have a language and or cognitive impairment. This can be done through co-ordination (using connectors such as and or but) or subordination, where there is a main clause in which an element is embedded or expanded into a subordinate clause. For our main hypothesis, the best estimate of effect size came from prior studies that compared those with Down syndrome to TD controls on composite measures of syntactic comprehension. Finally, a relative clause serves to post-modify the noun in the main clause. However, this format is likely to lead to children failing for reasons other than a lack of linguistic knowledge. Within each number sequence, individual numbers were highlighted on the tablet screen to indicate the pace at which they should be read aloud. In our final hypothesis we predicted that cognitive and verbal memory abilities would account for more variance on the multiple-choice than on the sentence verification animated task. When constructing sentences, it is important to always keep in mind that ideas should be parallel. You hold, or are currently applying for, any patents or significant stocks/shares relating to the subject matter of the paper you are commenting on. This is a newly devised sentence verification task using animations, which was presented on a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 tablet computer with a 12.3” (2736 x 1824 pixel) touch screen display. TROG-2. The view guiding this study is that complex syntax is rhetorical syntax, organizing the flow of information in a piece of discourse. The results were in keeping with our prediction and are shown in Table 5. Complex syntax attempts were coded under the appropriate category for syntactic structure. A key question was whether the prediction of TROG-2 scores by the mental age and memory measures was better than prediction of TECS-E scores: to check this, we calculated the 95% confidence interval around the R2 values. Language development shifts in the teen years from basic grammar mastery to the use of language on a higher level. The purpose of the current article is to investigate the comprehension of complex syntactic constructions, including relative clauses, complement clauses (that serve as the object of the main clause), and adverbial clauses in children with Down syndrome by considering how memory and hearing ability influence the processing of these grammatical structures. 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