Semin Speech Lang 2004; 25(1): 101-112
DOI: 10.1055/s-2004-824829
Copyright © 2004 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Distinguishing Dialect and Development from Disorder: Case Studies

Barbara Zurer Pearson1 , Lois Ciolli2
  • 1Research Associate, Department of Communication Disorders, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts
  • 2The Psychological Corporation, Harcourt Assessment, Inc., San Antonio Texas
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
15 April 2004 (online)

Seven case studies are presented to illustrate how the tasks in the proposed test battery provide the tools to distinguish language differences due to development or dialect from true signs of delay or disorder. The case studies exemplify different combinations of language strengths and weakness found among participants of extensive field research in the age range from 4 to 9 years. Special attention is paid to certain aspects of language development, such as time clauses or double wh-questions, in which dialect features play no role. All levels of performance, from the highest to the lowest, are found in children who are speakers of Mainstream American English (MAE) and the same is true for those whose language patterns indicate a strong variation from MAE.


Barbara Zurer PearsonPh.D. 

Research Associate, Department of Communication Disorders, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Amherst, MA 01003