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Two clinical markers for DLD in monolingual Italian speakers: what can they tell us about second language learners with DLD?

Guasti, M. T., White, M. J., Bianco, G. , Arosio, F., Camilleri, B. ORCID: 0000-0001-7145-4171 & Hasson, N. (2021). Two clinical markers for DLD in monolingual Italian speakers: what can they tell us about second language learners with DLD?. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 35(9), pp. 829-846. doi: 10.1080/02699206.2020.1830303


A large number of children worldwide are only exposed to their L2 around 3 years of age and can exhibit linguistic behaviours that resemble those of a child with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD). This can lead to under- or over-identification of DLD in this population. This study endeavors to contribute to overcoming this problem, by determining whether two specific clinical markers used with the Italian monolingual population can also be used with early L2 acquiring children, namely clitic production and non-word repetition. Our study involved two groups of 5-year-old L2 learners of Italian from various language backgrounds; 18 children had been referred to Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) services (EL2_DLD), and 30 children were typically developing (EL2_TD). The participants completed an Italian clitic production task and a non-word repetition task based on Italian phonotactics. Data was also collected from the participants' caregivers with the ALDeQ Parental Questionnaire to obtain information about the children's L1. Our results suggest that non-word repetition and clitic production in Italian are potentially useful for identifying L2 learners of Italian with DLD, at the age of 5 years. The repetition of non-words is highly accurate in identifying children with DLD among the participants, while clitic production is somewhat less discriminative in this sample. This study is a first step towards uncovering clinical markers that could be used to determine the presence of DLD in children acquiring their L2.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics on 9 Oct 2020, available online:
Publisher Keywords: Developmental language disorders, second language acquisition, Italian, nonword repetition, clitics
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
SWORD Depositor:
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