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Multivariate genetic analysis was used to examine the genetic and environmental aetiology of the interrelationships of diverse linguistic skills. This study used data from a large sample of 4 1/2-year-old twins who were tested on measures assessing articulation, phonology, grammar, vocabulary, and verbal memory. Phenotypic analysis suggested two latent factors: articulation (2 measures) and general language (the remaining 7), and a genetic model incorporating these factors provided a good fit to the data. Almost all genetic and shared environmental influences on the 9 measures acted through the two latent factors. There was also substantial aetiological overlap between the two latent factors, with a genetic correlation of 0.64 and shared environment correlation of 1.00. We conclude that to a large extent, the same genetic and environmental factors underlie the development of individual differences in a wide range of linguistic skills.


Journal article


J Child Lang

Publication Date





339 - 368


Chi-Square Distribution, Child Language, Child, Preschool, Female, Genetic Variation, Humans, Individuality, Language Tests, Linguistics, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Memory, Models, Genetic, Phonetics, Twins, Verbal Learning, Vocabulary