Event representation in language-disordered and normal children

Jeanette Nathan, Marquette University


This study explores the relationship between the child's use of language and his cognitive (nonlinguistic) knowledge of the routine events to which he is exposed. An event is defined in terms of people acting on objects and interacting with each other to effect some purpose. The parameters which constitute an event include boundaries, temporal-causal links, conditional and optional pathways and detours. Language-disordered children were compared to their chronological-aged peers and their language-aged peers in terms of their ability to recall the events of a breakfast script presented nonverbally. The researcher nonverbally acted out a breakfast scene which was designed to include the above mentioned parameters. The subject then acted out the scene, and his or her performance was videotaped and analyzed in terms of which events were recalled and which were omitted from the script. Language-disordered children between the ages of 4${1\over 2}$ and 5${1\over 2}$ years of age were found to differ in cognitive structure from their CA peers in that conditional pathways were poorly established in their mental representation of the event. Scores on the conditional, temporal, and optional items of the cognitive task were compared to scores obtained on a language task, designed to elicit the use of temporal, optional, and conditional relational terms. While a Chi Square analysis for all subjects taken together revealed a significant association between the scores on the two tasks for optional and conditional variables, but not for temporal, there was no association between scores on the two tasks for each of the groups taken separately. Where there was no correspondence, cognitive knowledge of the temporal, optional, and conditional relationships within the event appeared to prevail over linguistic knowledge of the relationships for normal and language-disordered children.

Recommended Citation

Jeanette Nathan, "Event representation in language-disordered and normal children" (January 1, 1993). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI9325689.