Object clitic production in French-speaking L2 children and children with SLI
A longitudinal comparison of elicited and spontaneous language
This study examines French object clitic production in 20 typically developing L2 children (L1 English) compared to 19 monolingual children with SLI. We collected spontaneous and elicitation data twice at a one-year interval (T1, T2) in order to better evaluate the impact of age- and time-related factors on the L2-SLI comparison, as well as the impact of proficiency and working memory on object clitic production. The data revealed considerable group overlap at T1 in both tasks, but the L2 children produced significantly more object clitics than the SLI group at T2 in spontaneous language, thus suggesting that the L2-SLI overlap decreases when the L2 children have more language exposure. In elicitation, clitic production in both groups increased from T1 to T2 when all clitic types were included, but when only 3p accusative clitics were analyzed, the L2 children outperformed the SLI group. Age played an important role in elicitation in both groups, thus suggesting that mature performance systems, including unimpaired working memory, are required for object clitic production in this task. Language-related measures were linked to both tasks, thus suggesting that object clitic production is particularly sensitive to overall language proficiency, possibly because of issues with resource allocation.