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German Communicative Development Inventory

An Adaptation of the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory for Toddlers

Gisela Szagun, Barbara Stumper and Satyam Antonio Schramm

This research presents a German adaptation of the American MacArthur-Bates Commmunicative Inventory (CDI) for toddlers, with the addition of a detailed inflectional morphology scale. The name of the instrument is FRAKIS (Fragebogen zur frühkindlichen Sprachentwicklung). The research presents the first norm data of early language development for German-speaking children. Results of the study confirm the enormous variability in early language development found in other languages for German. There was also a strong relation between lexical and grammatical development, including between specific lexical and grammatical areas. The instrument FRAKIS is an excellent tool for assessing language level in young children, be it for research purposes or in clinical settings.
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2 Development of FRAKIS – a German adaptation of the toddler CDI


2.1 Aims and preliminary studies

An appropriate questionnaire for the assessment of early child language must reflect the vocabulary and grammatical items which are typically acquired by children of the language under study in the time span addressed. Therefore, a precondition for its design is a sufficiently large data base of early child vocabulary and grammatical constructions. When we began our preliminary studies with a vocabulary list modelled on the American CDI, we realised that a such broad data base was still lacking for German, and this lead to the onset of the collection of new corpora in the years 1996 to 2000 (Szagun, 2004b). These corpora together with other corpora in the CHILDES data base may be regarded as sufficiently large to be representative of German-speaking children in the age range of one to four years (Szagun, 2004b; MacWinney, 2009). On the basis of these data we designed a version of our adaptation of the toddler CDI entitled FRAKIS (Fragebogen zur frühkindlichen Sprachentwicklung, English: Questionnaire on early child language acquisition)

A first and preliminary version of FRAKIS was developed in 1996 and was used during the longitudinal study with 22 children with normal hearing and 22 hearing-impaired children with cochlear implants (Szagun, 2001a, c). The items of this questionnaire were not yet based on representative language material from German-speaking children as such material did not exist at the time. They were collected with the large number of spontaneous speech samples recorded during...

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