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Prosodic assessment in Egyptian children with specific language impairment




Prosody is the aspect of language that conveys emotion by changes in tone, rhythm, and emphasis during speech. Prosody includes aspects such as intonation and tone of voice. Specific language impairment (SLI) is a developmental disorder in which language development is below the chronological age despite normal nonverbal intelligence and no obvious neurological or physiological impairments or emotional and/or social difficulties that could impact language use. Most of these children experience considerable difficulty in language comprehension and/or production and experience specific problems in learning syntactic rules. In the speech stream, boundaries of major syntactic constituents are reliably marked by prosodic cues. Although deficits in related aspects of prosody have been hypothesized to underlie SLI, prosody has been little studied in Egyptian children having SLIs.


The objective of this work was to assess prosody in Egyptian children with an SLI in order to correlate the results with the clinical profile of the patients so as to choose the proper rehabilitation training program.

Participants and method

This study included 30 Egyptian children with SLIs and 30 normal children as a control group; their ages ranged between 4 and 6 years. Assessment included language assessment using the Arabic language test and prosodic assessment using the protocol of prosodic assessment, which was especially designed to assess prosodic abilities in Arabic-speaking children.


Results revealed a significant difference in most of the individual and total subjective scores of prosodic skills between the control group and children with SLIs. Although the difference in the average of the total objective scores of prosodic assessment, which included pitch and energy, was highly significant, the average of total sentence duration was insignificant. There was significant correlation between the total language age and all subjective scores and an insignificant correlation with the total objective scores of prosodic assessment skills in SLI children.


SLI children have defective receptive, expressive, subjective, and objective scores of prosodic assessment skills that should be considered during the rehabilitation program for language stimulation for these children.


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Correspondence to Elham A. Shaheen.

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Shaheen, E.A., Shohdi, S.S., Ahmed, N.N. et al. Prosodic assessment in Egyptian children with specific language impairment. Egypt J Otolaryngol 28, 56–63 (2012).

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