Object and action naming in children with specific language impairment

Li Sheng, Karla K. McGregor

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: In this study, the authors aimed to examine the accuracy, latency, and errors of noun (object) and verb (action) naming in children with and without specific language impairment (SLI) and to determine whether children with SLI have a particularly large noun-verb performance gap. Method: Children with SLI, age-matched peers (AM), and expressive vocabulary- matched peers (VM) named 120 matched object and action pictures in a computerized confrontation naming task. Results: The SLI and VM groups demonstrated comparable naming latency and accuracy; both were slower and less accurate than the AM group. Object naming was more accurate than action naming in the SLI and VM groups; their noun-verb performance gaps were comparable. Object naming was faster than action naming in all children. In comparison with the AM group, the SLI group made proportionally fewer taxonomic errors and more omission errors when naming objects, and fewer misperception errors when naming actions. Conclusions: The naming abilities of children with SLI, although deficient given their chronological age, are commensurate with their vocabulary level. Their naming errors suggest immaturities in semantic representation. Action naming is significantly more difficult than object naming, but the noun-verb gap that characterizes the performance of children with SLI is appropriate for their vocabulary level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1704-1719
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Actions
  • Naming
  • Nouns
  • Objects
  • Specific language impairment
  • Verbs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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