Sentence repetition in different languages

Vocabulary tests in different languages
June 25, 2020

Sentence repetition in different languages

With so many languages spoken in South Africa, and so many of the cognitive tests used in neuropsychological assessment coming from western, English-speaking countries, it is difficult to conduct linguistically fair neuropsychological tests in our country with non-English first language patients. Even more difficult, is the assessment of language functions. As a result, many psychologists neglect to assess language ability in which case they may miss vital information about the person’s neuropsychological functioning.

In a study by Gagiano and Southwood (2015), English and Afrikaans sentences and sequences of numbers were constructed, and five-year old children with and without language impairment were assessed, being required to repeat aloud what they heard on a recording. The study found that the repetition of sentences, in particular, distinguished the children with and without language impairment. This, and that Martinis (2010) found that sentence repetition provides information on a child’s language skills that is independent of the influence of environmental factors, is a good reason to do further research on sentence repetition in various languages.

Suggested research:

  • Following the same procedures as described in the study by Gagiano and Southwood (2015), other sentences in other languages can be constructed and they can be tested for their sensitivity to language impairment.

Variations on the theme:

  • The sentences that were found to differentiate between children with or without language impairment can be tested on normal healthy controls to get a normative data to which patients can be compared.

Please leave a reply/comment below, especially if you are thinking of doing this research.


Gagiano, S. & Southwood, F. (2015). The use of digit and sentence repetition in the identification of language impairment: The case of child speakers of Afrikaans and South African English. Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics, 44, 37-60.

Marinis, T. 2010. Sentence repetition. Paper presented at the Third Meeting of COST Action
IS0804, 27-29 October, Larnaca, Cyprus.