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The genetic and environmental etiologies of diverse aspects of language ability and disability, including articulation, phonology, grammar, vocabulary, and verbal memory, were investigated in a U.K. sample of 787 pairs of 4.5-year-old same-sex and opposite-sex twins. Moderate genetic influence was found for all aspects of language in the normal range. A similar pattern was found at the low end of the distribution with the exception of two receptive measures. Environmental influence was mainly due to nonshared factors, unique to the individual, with little influence from shared environment for most measures. Genetic and environmental influences on language ability and disability are quantitatively and qualitatively similar for males and females.

Original publication




Journal article


Child Dev

Publication Date





632 - 651


Child, Preschool, Female, Genotype, Humans, Individuality, Language Development, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Phenotype, Phonetics, Semantics, Social Environment, Speech Articulation Tests, Speech Perception, Statistics as Topic, Twins, Dizygotic, Twins, Monozygotic, Verbal Behavior, Verbal Learning