Typical and delayed lexical development in Italian

Leslie Rescorla, Alessandra Frigerio, Maria Enrica Sali, Pietro Spataro, Emiddia Longobardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The Language Development Survey (LDS; Rescorla, 1989) was used to compare Italian and English lexical development. The authors addressed the issue of universal versus language-specific aspects of lexical development by testing language, age, and gender effects on vocabulary scores and by comparing vocabulary composition across languages. They addressed the issue of delay versus deviance by comparing vocabulary composition in late talkers and younger vocabulary-sizematched children.

Results: Vocabulary size did not differ significantly by language, and age and gender effects on vocabulary size were not moderated by language. The Italian-English Q correlation for percentage word use scores was .55, lower than the within-language concordance of .90 and above. Cross-linguistic concordance declined as age and vocabulary size increased. Many cross-linguistic word matches (63 words) were found among the top 100 words. Italian late talkers were similar to younger vocabularysize-matched Italian children in vocabulary composition, consistent with findings for English, Greek, and Korean.

Method: Participants were 398 Italian and 206 U.S. children ages 18-35 months.

Conclusions: In both languages, the early lexicons of late talkers and typical talkers contained many of the same words, indicating considerable universality in young children’s lexical development. These common words are therefore good targets for clinical intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1792-1803
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2014


  • Children
  • Language
  • Screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Typical and delayed lexical development in Italian'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this