The present study was designed to investigate the influence of syntactic complexity on sentence comprehension in Hebrew. Participants were 40 native Hebrew-speaking 5th grade dyslexic and normally reading children aged 10–11 years. Children’s syntactic abilities were tested by three experimental measures: syntactic judgment, a sentence-picture matching task, and a sentence correction task. Each task consisted of sentences composed of five syntactic constructions varying in the level of syntactic complexity (active, passive, conjoined, object-subject relative, and subject-object relative). The length of sentences and the number of propositions in the sentences were controlled. In addition, a wide range of the children’s reading and general abilities (e.g., reading comprehension, phonological awareness, and working memory) was examined. The results indicated that dyslexic readers were less accurate and slower than good readers in all reading tasks and in the tasks on sentence comprehension. The findings suggest that the factor of syntactic complexity seems to be a relatively independent aspect of sentence comprehension. This aspect of sentence comprehension is probably not affected in dyslexic readers. Rather, processing deficit related to phonological and memory impairments of dyslexic children and their ability to process syntactic information is responsible for the difficulties in sentence comprehension.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 1, 2004
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