Semester of Graduation

Fall 2022


Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Disorders

Document Type



Background: There have been numerous studies that have researched word learning in children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD). These studies have found that children with DLD present with higher vocabulary deficits compared to their typically developing (TD) peers. Many of these studies’ results suggest that verb learning is the most difficult word type to comprehend in early language development for both TD children and children with DLD. This current study aims to examine verb use in children with and without DLD and to specifically examine their usage of GAP verbs. Methods: Participants included 36 children, 18 TD and 18 DLD who spoke in a SWE dialect. The group classification was determined by three standardized assessments: The Primary Test of Nonverbal Intelligence (PTONI; Ehrler & McGhee, 2008), which was a measure of nonverbal intelligence; the Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation (GTFA-2; Goldman & Fristoe, 2000), which was a measure of the children’s articulation abilities at the single word level; and the syntax subtest of the Diagnostic Evaluation of Language Variation-Norm Referenced (DELV-NR; Seymour, Roepers, & de Villers, 2005). All language samples were coded using the Systematic Analysis Language Transcription program (SALT; Miller & Iglesias, 2012). Results: Children with DLD produced fewer verbs and a smaller variety of both main and secondary verbs. Children with DLD also had lower rates of overt forms when producing GAP verbs. Not only did the children with DLD have lower rates of overt bound T/A morphemes, but also lower rates of auxiliary BE forms produced with a GAP verb. Conclusions: These findings indicate that there is no relationship between these two groups and their GAP verb usage, and therefore GAP verb production should not be considered a clinical marker of DLD. Furthermore, although non-GAP verbs likely strengthen the semantic content of a child’s spoken language, the use of GAP verbs do not necessarily flag semantic weaknesses. As speech-language pathologists, we should follow a preventative model by working with classroom teachers and/or parents to continue to encourage children to expand their verb knowledge in both children with DLD and without.



Committee Chair

Haebig, Eileen K.