The Study

The children and their parents described in this chapter are families from the New England sample (Pan, Imbens-Bailey, Winner, & Snow, 1996; Snow, Pan, Imbens-Bailey, & Herman, 1996) for whom longitudinal data were available at child ages 20 months, 32 months, and 5 years. There were 32 children (18 girls, 14 boys) for whom data were available at all three time points. Eighteen were first born children. Families were English-speaking, primarily middle-class families, with Hollingshead's Four Factor Index of Social Status (Hollingshead, 1975) scores ranging from 33-66 (mean = 55.34, sd = 10.29). Mean maternal age was 30.9 years.

At the 20- and 32-month observations, parent-child dyads were videotaped interacting in a laboratory playroom using age-appropriate toys and materials provided by the investigators. At age 5, children were asked to perform a number of tasks, including telling a personal narrative and telling a fantasy narrative using small toys and props. Resulting language samples at each observation were transcribed using the Child Language Data Exchange System (MacWhinney, 2000). Children's receptive and expressive vocabularies were measured at age 20 months using an early form of the MacArthur Communicative Development Inventories (CDI), a maternal checklist (Dale, Bates, Reznick, & Morisset, 1989). Children's morphosyntactic skills at 32 months were measured using Mean Length of Utterance (MLU) (Brown, 1973) and the Index of Productive Syntax (IPSyn), a measure of emergent morphosyntax (Scarborough, 1990). Summary statistics on these lexical and morphosyntactic measures for the present sample are presented in Table 10.1.

The Polarity Path

The Polarity Path

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