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Topics in Language Disorders

June 2010, Volume 30 Number 2 , p 119 - 134


  • J. Michael Terry PhD
  • Sandra C. Jackson PhD, CCC-SLP
  • Evangelos Evangelou PhD
  • Richard L. Smith PhD


This study tests the extent to which giving credit for African American English (AAE) responses on a General American English sentence imitation test mitigates dialect effects. Forty-eight AAE-speaking second graders completed the Recalling Sentences subtest of the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals—Third Edition (1995). A Bayesian Markov Chain Monte Carlo method was used to determine the relationship between the studentsʼ scores and the presence of third person singular -s, a feature largely absent from AAE morphosyntax, in the subtest sentences. Even when given credit for AAE responses, the estimated effect of third person singular -s was significant, high relative to those of negation and counterfactual conditional if + ed, and correlated with an independent measure of the studentsʼ rootedness in AAE syntax. It is argued that these results reveal a receptive language effect not addressed by crediting dialect productions.

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