Inflectional and derivational morphological spelling abilities of children with Specific Language Impairment

Sarah Critten, V. Connelly, J.E. Dockrell, K. Walter

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    Children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) are known to have difficulties with spelling but the factors that underpin these difficulties, are a matter of debate. The present study investigated the impact of oral language and literacy on the bound morpheme spelling abilities of children with SLI. Thirty-three children with SLI (9-10 years) and two control groups, one matched for chronological age (CA) and one for language and spelling age (LA) (aged 6-8 years) were given dictated spelling tasks of 24 words containing inflectional morphemes and 18 words containing derivational morphemes. There were no significant differences between the SLI group and their LA matches in accuracy or error patterns for inflectional morphemes. By contrast when spelling derivational morphemes the SLI group was less accurate and made proportionately more omissions and phonologically implausible errors than both control groups. Spelling accuracy was associated with phonological awareness and reading; reading performance significantly predicted the ability to spell both inflectional and derivational morphemes. The particular difficulties experienced by the children with SLI for derivational morphemes are considered in relation to reading and oral language.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number948
    JournalFrontiers in Psychology
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2014

    Bibliographical note

    The full text is available free from the link given.
    Copyright © 2014 Critten, Connelly, Dockrell and Walter. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


    Leverhulme Trust and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)


    • derivational
    • inflectional
    • language
    • morphemes
    • reading
    • SLI
    • spelling
    • writing


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