Semin Speech Lang 2004; 25(1): 33-40
DOI: 10.1055/s-2004-824824
Copyright © 2004 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Dialect Identification versus Evaluation of Risk in Language Screening

Lois Ciolli1 , Harry N. Seymour2
  • 1Senior Research Director, The Psychological Corporation, Harcourt Assessment, Inc., San Antonio, Texas
  • 2Professor Emeritus, Department of Communication Disorders, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
15 April 2004 (online)

This article proposes that any dialect-neutral screening test should consist of two parts: one part using contrastive items to screen for Language Variation Status (Mainstream American English [MAE] or a degree of variation from MAE), and a second part using noncontrastive items to screen for degree of risk for language disorder (low, medium, or high). The two scores are interpreted together in forming an overall clinical profile of a child. The implications for further diagnostic testing of both MAE and non-MAE speakers who exhibit risk for language disorder are discussed. Most importantly, for the African American child, viewing the results of the two types of proposed screening items together clears the “variation due to speech and language dialect” issue out of the way so that if further evaluation is needed, it is done for valid reasons, not superficial ones.


Lois CiolliM.A. C.C.C.-S.L.P. 

The Psychological Corporation, Harcourt Assessment, Inc.

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