Relatively easy relatives

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We tested whether the relativized relatives approach, which suggests that typically-developing children encounter difficulties with movement structures in which one lexically-restricted NP intervenes in the movement of another lexically-restricted NP, also applies to syntactic SLI (SySLI). We assessed the production of subject- and object-relatives in 175 Hebrew-speaking children and adolescents with SySLI and 87 controls. The results indicated that the participants with SySLI avoided intervention, significantly more than the control group, by omitting the relative head or the embedded NP, or substituting them with a non-lexically restricted NP. Two patterns of SySLI emerged: one subgroup could produce subject relatives but was sensitive to intervention, and one subgroup could not produce any relative, possibly due to a tree-construction deficit.


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