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Alana Curcione - Hunter College Department of Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology

Alana's poster

Noun Composition and Attributes in Toddlers Who Are Late Talkers

Alana Curcione, Michelle MacRoy-Higgins & JungMoon Hyun

Hunter College Department of Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology

Background: This study examined the noun characteristics in late talkers’ vocabularies. The differences in the characteristics of early vocabularies between late talkers’ and age-matched, typically-developing toddlers are well documented. However, the comparison between late talkers and younger, vocabulary-matched peers is limited.

Methods: This study analyzed vocabulary data from 14 late talkers (mean age 24 months) and 14 vocabulary-matched peers (mean age 16 months). Late talkers had fewer than 50 words and did not combine words. Parents reported children's expressive vocabularies using The MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories (CDI). The two groups’ most common CDI-categories (e.g., animals) and prominent attributes (shape, material, color, sound, solidity) of each word were analyzed.

Results: The late talkers and vocabulary-matched peers acquired similar CDI categories, but late talkers’ most commonly produced words were in the animal sound category, while vocabulary-matched peers’ most commonly produced words were in the food/drink category. Also, nouns with prominent shape attributes (e.g., ball) were dominant in both groups; however, words with sound attributes (e.g., vroom) were more frequently produced in late talkers than in vocabulary-matched peers.

Conclusion: These findings indicate that toddlers who are late talkers and vocabulary-matched peers acquire similar vocabulary words, but they may use different strategies. Late talkers’ preference for words represented by sound attributes may reflect a strategy to compensate for their limited vocabulary. Results can inform intervention targets; clinicians may consider utilizing noun attributes to teach new words.