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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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4 Developmental trends and variability


In this chapter age dependent changes for the three language measures vocabulary, inflectional morphology and sentence complexity will be presented. Curves depicting the children’s vocabulary, inflectional morpheme and sentence complexity production between 18 and 30 months will be given. As a measure of central tendency the median will be shown, and as measures of dispersion the 10th, 25th, 75th and 90th percentiles. Such a percentile division corresponds to that in other CDIs (Fenson et al., 1994, Bleses et al., 2008a, b). Furthermore, in the case of German, for most scales these segments correspond to those categories of percentile spans which differentiate significantly between children’s competence when confidence intervals are taken into account (Szagun et al., 2009).

Two types of curve per measure will be presented, curves showing the observed values and those showing fitted values. Actually observed values tend to contain fluctuations of performance over the age levels, despite an altogether increasing trend in linguistic competencies. In order to eradicate such chance fluctuation it is customary to calculate a fitted curve on the basis of the empirical values. A number of curves are generated, linear, quadratic, cubic, logistic curves. The curve which shows optimal fitting to the observed data is selected (Fenson et al., 1994). In most cases this was the logistic function which starts with slow initial increments, then can increase rapidly and flattens again towards the end. Such a growth pattern has been observed for many developmental phenomena.

In this section growth...

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