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Developmental dysphasia is a specific and primary disorder of oral language development which occurs in children with normal hearing and normal intelligence, having neither objective neurological diseases nor emotional or communicative disorders, and is characterised by more serious deficiencies in perception than in production processes. The relevant literature has mainly been focusing on expressive linguistic skills so far; whereas with respect to the mechanism of speech perception, only certain component processes have been investigated. The present paper presents pioneering work in exploring specific perception disorders in dysphasic children and discusses interrelationships of the operation of component processes within the total system of speech perception. On the basis of the foregoing, delayed speech and the dissociation of production and perception are discussed in the framework of current theories of language acquisition and hypotheses concerning the operation of defective processes.

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