Laying the groundwork for the DELV (Precursor literature, dissertations, joint work of the Working Groups prior to the conceptualization of the DELV)

Publication Date



In this study, African American English (AAE)-speaking children’s comprehension of 2 different types of double negative sentences was examined and contrasted with that of a comparison group of Standard American English (SAE)-speaking children. The first type of double negative, negative concord, involves 2 negative elements in a sentence that are interpreted together as single negation. The second type of double negative, called true double negation, involves 2 negatives that are interpreted as independent negatives. A cross-sectional cohort of 61 (35 AAE, 26 SAE) typically developing children ranging in age from 5;2 (years;months) to 7;11 participated. The children responded to story-based grammatical judgment tasks that required them to differentiate between negative concord and true double negation. Results revealed no statistically significant differences between AAE- and SAE-speaking children in the way they interpreted negative concord and true double negation. However, there were significantly more correct responses to negative concord sentences across combined groups. In particular, the older children (i.e., 7-year-olds) produced more correct responses to negative concord than did the younger group (i.e., 5-year-olds). Explanations for these findings are framed in terms of children’s knowledge about sentences with 2 negatives, the constraints affecting the interpretation of 2 negatives that include negative concord, and the clinical importance of negative concord for assessing specific language impairment in child AAE speakers

Journal or Book Title

Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research


212- 222





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