The Social Dimension of Language Impairment

Author Information

Evangelia Kyritsi,
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

Spyridoula Varlokosta,
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

DOI: 10.47298/comela22.4-6
The GLOCAL Proceedings:  The GLOCAL Conference in the Mediterranean and Europe 2022


Most research on children with atypical language has focused on language difficulties per se, such as difficulties in syntax, vocabulary, speech production, or pragmatic competence. Whereas there is ample evidence that language difficulties lead to literacy difficulties (Stackhouse and Wells 1997), the social dimension of these difficulties very often goes overlooked and thus requires scholarly work.

However, in order to develop a comprehensive view of language impairment, one would also do well to take into consideration the range of factors related to the language-impaired individual, their home, and to other domestic environments, their educational experiences, and the overall social environment of the person. For example, children who exhibit traits of language impairment often experience behavioural and emotional difficulties. These difficulties may continue into adulthood and may affect academic achievements (Botting et al. 2016). These difficulties have a significant impact on the relationships between the language-impaired person, their fellow students, and their teachers. Moreover, extensive research has suggested that factors such as parents’ education and socio-economic status, parental attitudes, parental involvement and responsiveness all influence language socialization in non-typically developing children (Law et al. 2019). Those who exhibit elements of language-impairment may also experience difficulties in their recurring and hence common everyday situations. These situations and actions within these situations include money transactions or the need to complete official documents (Gur et al. 2020; Winstanley et al. 2018).

As such, this paper constitutes a critical review of social factors implicated in language impairment. The paper first attempts a review of literature, followed by and including a critical review of this literature. The paper then attempts to place this literature and its accompanying research within a current context of language impairment. Following, the paper discusses the current state of research on language impairment through an ethnographic view. Finally, the paper concludes on current work and hence the current state of language impairment.

Overall, we conclude that educators and policy makers need to take into consideration the aforementioned factors in order to not only support language in the atypical development of the individual, but also to ensure that language-impaired people are able to experience a good quality life.

Keywords: Linguistic anthropology, language impairment, social factors, development, atypical language


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