Specific language impairment as a syntax-phonology (PF) interface problem: evidence from Afrikaans

  • Norbert Corver Utrecht University
  • Frenette Southwood Department of General Linguistics, Stellenbosch University
  • Roeland van Hout Radboud University Nijmegen
Keywords: Afrikaans, doubling, lexicon-syntax interface, SLI, syntax-PF interface


A theoretical account of specific language impairment (SLI) – one which places the locus of the impairment at Spell-Out at the syntax-phonology interface – is proposed and then tested against utterances from Afrikaans-speaking children with SLI. Drawing on Minimalism, our account offers a unified explanation for the seemingly diverse phenomena found in the Afrikaans data: omission of certain lexical material, double articulation of other lexical material and word order deviations. Based on our data, we conclude that the language problem of children with SLI appears to lie neither in the mapping from lexicon to syntax (thus in the selection of a lexical item as a member of the numeration) nor in the computational system, but in the mapping of an adult-like syntactic representation onto a proper sound representation.


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Author Biography

Frenette Southwood, Department of General Linguistics, Stellenbosch University
Lecturer in the Department of General Linguistics