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The status of the “weaker” language in unbalanced French/German bilingual language acquisition

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Abstract

In this paper, I investigate the status of the so-called “weaker” language, French, in French/German bilingual first language acquisition, using data from two children from the DuFDE-corpus (see Schlyter, 1990a), Christophe and François. Schlyter (1993, 1994) proposes that the “weaker” language in the unbalanced children she studied has the status equivalent to that of a second language (L2). I will verify this assumption on the basis of certain grammatical phenomena, such as the use of subject clitics, null subjects and negation, with respect to which L1 and L2 learners show different developmental patterns. The results indicate that the “weaker” language of the children analyzed in this study cannot be interpreted as an L2. Both children behave predominantly like monolingual and balanced bilingual L1 learners in both languages.

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... This study deals with a case of bilingual first language acquisition (BFLA) where the communicative environment, status and input of the two languages are very different: one is the dominant language of the community, and the preferred language of the child and the family, while the other language is dispreferred by the child and its input comes mainly from one single source. Often in the literature, the language that is acquired in the environment of another language and that is dispreferred by the child is referred to as a weak or weaker language (Bonnesen, 2006;Döpke, 2000;Schlyter, 1993;Schlyter & Hakansson, 1994). However, Meisel (2007), addressing the status of the "weaker" language, pointed out that neither dominance nor preference refers to properties characterizing the linguistic knowledge of a bilingual child and that is why the terms "non-dominant", "dispreferred" and "weaker" should not be used interchangeably. ...
... Only in the case of incomplete acquisition of one of the languages, that is, failure to acquire certain grammatical knowledge, can we define a language in BFLA as a weaker one (Meisel, 2007). The question of whether nondominant and/or dispreferred language in BFLA can also be a weaker language is of theoretical importance in language acquisition research, because incomplete acquisition of certain properties of a language in BFLA will indicate that reduced input is likely to impose limitations on language development and that there is a certain threshold of input necessary for complete language acquisition (see also Bonnesen, 2006;Meisel, 2007). ...
... Several studies so far (Bonnesen, 2006;Döpke, 2000;Schlyter, 1993;Schlyter & Hakansson, 1994) have looked into the acquisition of the non-dominant and/or non-preferred language in BFLA and provided evidence that the acquisition of the language may be marked with constructions that are uncommon or that are used more often and more persistently than in monolingual or balanced bilingual acquisition. However, the fact that these norm-deviant constructions are observed simultaneously with the incriminated patterns and only temporarily allowed the scholars (Bonnesen, 2006;Döpke, 2000;Meisel, 2007) to argue that these atypical constructions can be interpreted only as indicators of delay in the language development and they are unlikely to be regarded as a piece of evidence supporting the view that reduced input may result in non-monolingual-like and incomplete language acquisition. ...
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Aims and objectives/purpose/research questions: The main research question we seek to answer in the present study is: "What effect does reduced input in the non-dominant and dispreferred language have on the acquisition of Russian gender morphology by a bilingual Turkish-Russian child: Is it still sufficient for its monolingual-like development or can it cause incomplete acquisition of Russian gender morphology, at least, in some domains?" Design/methodology/approach: This study is a longitudinal case study. Data and analysis: The main source of data collection is video and audio recordings. Twenty-five recordings are available. They cover the period of between two years and 11 months (2;11) and 4;0. The data are examined in terms of the availability of masculine, feminine and neuter form-related genders, as well as availability of feminine and masculine semantic-related genders of nouns and pronouns in the first-, second-and third-person contexts. We look into whether the data of the bilingual child is marked with deviations from monolingual Russian data and/or incomplete acquisition of gender in any domain. Findings/conclusions: The findings of the present study, on the one hand, support the view that, by and large, reduced to a certain degree, input is still sufficient for monolingual-like language development; on the other hand, it demonstrates that reduced input may lead to non-monolingual-like and/or incomplete acquisition and, therefore, appears to be a main factor determining the development of a language and accounting for its strengths and weaknesses.
... Most of the studies investigating such asymmetrical development in bilingual first language acquisition focus on the interaction between the stronger and the weaker language (WL) in the bilingual's repertoire, and particularly on the cross-linguistic influence and code-switching between them (Döpke, 2000b;Hulk & Mueller, 2000;Mueller, 1998;Yip & Matthews, 2007 to name a few). There have been rather fewer studies that explore acquisition of the WL by bilingual children (Bonnesen, 2006;Döpke, 2000a;La Morgia, 2011;Schlyter, 1993;Schlyter & Hakansson, 1994). These studies focus on the analysis of norm-deviant forms found in the production of their bilingual participants when they speak their WL, and show that acquisition of the WL is marked with a more numerous and persistent use of deviant forms than that of their monolingual and balanced bilingual counterparts. ...
... These studies focus on the analysis of norm-deviant forms found in the production of their bilingual participants when they speak their WL, and show that acquisition of the WL is marked with a more numerous and persistent use of deviant forms than that of their monolingual and balanced bilingual counterparts. However, the interpretation of these deviant forms in the WL differs among the scholars: while Schlyter (1993) and Schlyter & Hakansson (1994) suggest that due to the reduced input, acquisition of the WL differs not only quantitatively but also qualitatively and may result in acquisition failure, Döpke (2000a), Bonnesen (2006) and Meisel (2007) argue that acquisition of the WL, by and large, follows monolingual patterns and that the (to a certain degree) reduced input is unlikely to cause qualitatively different and incomplete acquisition. Though the scholars involved in the debate about the status of the WL have not reached a consensus about whether the reduced input might cause qualitatively different and/or incomplete acquisition of the WL, they all acknowledge that if there is such a possibility, "the only feasible explanation could be that the input does not suffice to acquire certain domains" (Bonnesen, 2006, p. 178). ...
... First of all, the inconsistency in the acquisition of RA between S. and the other bilinguals may indirectly suggest the existence of a certain minimum threshold of the input within the critical period which is essential for monolingual-like acquisition. The question of how much minimum input in a language is required for a child to acquire this language has been raised by some scholars (Bonnesen, 2006;Goldin-Meadow, 2006;Horowitz, 1987;Montrul, 2008); however, though all of them refer to indirect evidence in favor of the threshold existence, none of them has been able to define the threshold quantitatively, mostly because the threshold cannot be considered as an absolute average quantity of the input since it is likely to depend on the constellation of different internal and external factors and would vary among individuals (Döpke, 1992). Based on this argument, our results allow us to speculate that in S.'s case, the quantity of the input is reduced but still it seems to reach and satisfy his threshold, which has allowed the child to acquire the category of RA in the monolingual-like manner. ...
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Aims and objectives/purpose/research questions: This study aims to contribute to the discussion about the weaker language development by examining the effect of restricted input and use on the acquisition of the morphological category of aspect in Russian by a Turkish–Russian bilingual child in a Turkish-dominant environment. The main goal the study pursues is to investigate whether the reduced input and restricted use of Russian, mainly through communication with a Russian-speaking mother, is still sufficient for monolingual-like acquisition of Russian aspect. Design/methodology/approach: This study is a longitudinal case study. Data and analysis: The main source of data collection is video and audio recordings. Twenty-five recordings are available. They cover the period of between two years and 11 months (2;11) and 4;0. First, the data is examined in terms of the availability of perfective and imperfective forms and meanings they (these forms) express in the Russian language. Then, we look into whether the data of the bilingual child is marked with deviations from the monolingual Russian data in terms of error rates and patterns. Findings/conclusions: The findings of the study suggest that despite the reduced input, the acquisition of Russian aspect in the Turkish-dominant environment follows the same pattern as a monolingual acquisition does. Originality, and significance/implications: The study contributes to the discussion about the weaker language development in bilingual contexts and adds to the growing body of research looking at the development of a particular language in a variety of different contexts.
... The reality is that amounts of exposure to a given language can change dramatically in a bilingual child's life when parents divorce, when a nanny or babysitter who speaks the minority language leaves the family circle, when the child enters day care, or the regular school system, and so on (Silva-Corvalán 2014). In addition, as Bonnesen's (2009) study reveals, when bilingual children chose to switch into the stronger language or refuse outright to speak the weaker language, parents may use this change in the child's behaviour as a pretext to stop speaking the minority language with their child altogether. In those cases, we can predict that the child will cease to learn phenomena not yet acquired in the absence of relevant input, and may even attrite. ...
... Accordingly, Meisel (2007a,b) reviewed the arguments for a "weak language" and emphasized that there are demonstrable rate of acquisition differences in weaker-language bilinguals but no significant competence differences. Similarly, Bonnesen (2009) carried out a case study of French-German bilinguals with French as a weaker language. He showed that their grammatical development was slower than that of monolinguals but otherwise comparable. ...
... The reality is that amounts of exposure to a given language can change dramatically in a bilingual child's life when parents divorce, when a nanny or babysitter who speaks the minority language leaves the family circle, when the child enters day care, or the regular school system, and so on (Silva-Corvalán 2014). In addition, as Bonnesen's (2009) in the child's behaviour as a pretext to stop speaking the minority language with their child altogether. In those cases, we can predict that the child will cease to learn phenomena not yet acquired in the absence of relevant input, and may even attrite. ...
Article
Full-text available
A growing literature on bilingual development explores relationships between language exposure and learning outcomes. Vocabulary size and pace of grammar learning have been claimed to be causally related to amounts or types of exposure to each language. Strong claims are made about the role of exposure on bilingual outcomes. Some researchers posit a unique learning result: a ‘weak language’. In a critical review, I voice reasons for scepticism that quantity or quality of exposure alone will explain findings. Central constructs are not well defined; inappropriate research methods have been used; the right kind of data is not discussed. Crucially, authors prevaricate on the notion of language itself, switching between cognitive and environmental perspectives. Both are needed to interpret bilingual behaviours but play different roles in the construction of learner grammars.
... However, such scenario seems to be not always the case, especially in cases when one of the bilingual's languages is acquired via significantly restricted input in the dominant environment of the other language, when it is more rarely used and/or preferred by the bilingual (De Houwer, 2007;Montrul, 2008;Schlyter, 1993). Taking in consideration this possible imbalance between the languages in BFLA, several scholars have raised a question of the status of the socalled weaker language (WL) in BFLA as a separate issue of research (Bonnesen, 2006;Döpke, 2000;Meisel, 2007;Schlyter, 1993). So far, two opposite views have emerged. ...
... So far, two opposite views have emerged. According to the first view, despite the reduced input, if compared with monolingual and balanced bilingual acquisition, the development of the WL is similar to that of monolinguals and balanced bilinguals (Bonnesen, 2006;Döpke, 2000;Meisel, 2007). The proponents of the opposite view, however, argue that the development of the WL differs not only quantitatively but also qualitatively, that is not only rates but also patterns of errors observed in the WL differ from those recorded in monolingual and balanced bilingual language acquisition (Schlyter, 1993;Schlyter & Hakansson, 1994) and, moreover, the WL development can result in incomplete acquisition, at least, in some domains (Montrul, 2008). ...
... Taking into consideration the fact that some of bilingual children were reported to fail or delay in the acquisition of one of their languages (see Montrul, 2008), on the one hand, and a lot of research showing the influence of input on the language development, on the other hand, made some scholars (Bonnesen, 2006;Montrul, 2008) suggest that there should be a minimum threshold of input that is essential "to acquire and maintain a critical mass of language, that eventually leads to full linguistic ability" (Montrul, 2008, p. 127). The idea of the input threshold is not a new one in L1 acquisition and it was expressed by several linguists earlier (Clark, 2001;Goldin-Meadow, 2006;Horowitz, 1987;Naigles & Mayeux, 2001;Randall, 1992), most of whom acknowledged that it is obviously not an easy task to provide a direct piece of evidence in favor of the threshold existence because in the natural environment, input clues "exist in sufficient depth as to constitute the threshold conditions for the basic forms of language to be acquired" (Horowitz, 1987, p. 163). ...
Article
This study contributes to the discussion about the status of the weaker language (WL) by investigating whether reduced input in Russian in a Turkish-dominant environment is sufficient for monolingual-like acquisition of the WL. We focus on the acquisition of Russian cases by a Turkish-Russian child who has acquired his Russian in the Turkish-dominant environment mainly through interaction with his multilingual mother. The data were collected via video/audio recordings, covering the period of between two years and eleven months and four years of the participant. First, the data were examined in terms of the availability of Russian cases and their functions. Then, we looked into whether the data were marked with deviations from monolingual norms in terms of error rates and patterns. The findings suggested that despite the reduced input, the acquisition of Russian cases by the Turkish-Russian participant follows the same pattern as monolingual acquisition does.
... This study deals with a case of bilingual first language acquisition (BFLA) where the communicative environment, status and input of the two languages are very different: one is the dominant language of the community, and the preferred language of the child and the family, while the other language is dispreferred by the child and its input comes mainly from one single source. Often in the literature, the language that is acquired in the environment of another language and which is dispreferred by the child is referred to as a weak or weaker language (Bonnesen, 2006;Döpke, 2000;Schlyter, 1993;Schlyter & Hakansson, 1994). However, Meisel (2007), addressing the status of the "weaker" language, pointed out that neither dominance nor preference refers to properties characterizing the linguistic knowledge of a bilingual child and that is why the terms "non-dominant", "dispreferred" and "weaker" should not be used interchangeably. ...
... Only in the case of incomplete acquisition of one of the languages, that is failure to acquire certain grammatical knowledge, we can define a language in BFLA as a weaker one (Meisel, 2007). The question of whether nondominant and/or dispreferred language in BFLA can also be a weaker language is of theoretical importance in language acquisition research because incomplete acquisition of certain properties of a language in BFLA will indicate that reduced input is likely to impose limitations on language development and that there is a certain threshold of input necessary for complete language acquisition (see also Bonnesen, 2006, Meisel, 2007. ...
... Several studies so far (Bonnesen, 2006;Döpke, 2000;Schlyter, 1993;Schlyter & Hakansson, 1994) have looked into the acquisition of the non-dominant and/or nonpreferred language in BFLA and provided evidence that the acquisition of the language may be marked with constructions that are uncommon or that are used more often and more persistently than in monolingual or balanced bilingual acquisition. ...
Article
Aims and objectives/purpose/research questions: The main research question we seek to answer in the present study is: “What effect does reduced input in the non-dominant and dispreferred language have on the acquisition of Russian gender morphology by a bilingual Turkish–Russian child: Is it still sufficient for its monolingual-like development or can it cause incomplete acquisition of Russian gender morphology, at least, in some domains?” Design/methodology/approach: This study is a longitudinal case study. Data and analysis: The main source of data collection is video and audio recordings. Twenty-five recordings are available. They cover the period of between two years and 11 months (2;11) and 4;0. The data are examined in terms of the availability of masculine, feminine and neuter form-related genders, as well as availability of feminine and masculine semantic-related genders of nouns and pronouns in the first-, second- and third-person contexts. We look into whether the data of the bilingual child is marked with deviations from monolingual Russian data and/or incomplete acquisition of gender in any domain. Findings/conclusions: The findings of the present study, on the one hand, support the view that, by and large, reduced to a certain degree, input is still sufficient for monolingual-like language development; on the other hand, it demonstrates that reduced input may lead to non-monolingual-like and/or incomplete acquisition and, therefore, appears to be a main factor determining the development of a language and accounting for its strengths and weaknesses.
... Accordingly, Meisel (2007aMeisel ( , 2007b reviewed the arguments for a 'weak language' and emphasized that there are demonstrable rate of acquisition differences in weaker-language bilinguals but no significant competence differences. Similarly, Bonnesen (2009) carried out a case study of French-German bilinguals with French as a weaker language. He showed that their grammatical development was slower than that of monolinguals but otherwise comparable. ...
... The reality is that amounts of exposure to a given language can change dramatically in a bilingual child's life when parents divorce, when a nanny or babysitter who speaks the minority language leaves the family circle, when the child enters day care or the regular school system, and so on (Silva-Corvalán, 2014). In addition, as Bonnesen's (2009) study reveals, when bilingual children choose to switch into the stronger language or refuse outright to speak the weaker language, parents may use this change in the child's behaviour as a pretext to stop speaking the minority language with their child altogether. In those cases, we can predict that the child will cease to learn phenomena not yet acquired in the absence of relevant input, and may even attrite. ...
Article
I had several goals in writing my keynote “Exposure and input in bilingual development”. The first was to emphasize that there are two components to the study of environmental effects on language learning. The first is the stuff ‘out there’ ( exposure ) that we want to observe and count and whose effects we want to assess; the second is the internal, mentally represented stuff (my input ) that is logically related to a particular learning problem. Both exposure and input are indissociable from assumptions about what language acquisition mechanisms do and the nature of linguistic cognition. Accordingly, for example, a decision to count ‘words’ in child-directed speech (CDS) or via a parental questionnaire is not an innocent one. Not only can one find radically different views on what a ‘word’ is (Krause, Bosch & Clahsen, 2015), one can find work that questions the need to postulate such a unit at all (see discussion in MacWhinney, 2000). It follows that adopting a clear position, about which abstract mentally represented elements are crucial cues to learning some phenomenon, is an essential step in deciding what to count in CDS.
... Accordingly, Meisel (2007aMeisel ( , 2007b reviewed the arguments for a 'weak language' and emphasized that there are demonstrable rate of acquisition differences in weaker-language bilinguals but no significant competence differences. Similarly, Bonnesen (2009) carried out a case study of French-German bilinguals with French as a weaker language. He showed that their grammatical development was slower than that of monolinguals but otherwise comparable. ...
... The reality is that amounts of exposure to a given language can change dramatically in a bilingual child's life when parents divorce, when a nanny or babysitter who speaks the minority language leaves the family circle, when the child enters day care or the regular school system, and so on (Silva-Corvalán, 2014). In addition, as Bonnesen's (2009) study reveals, when bilingual children choose to switch into the stronger language or refuse outright to speak the weaker language, parents may use this change in the child's behaviour as a pretext to stop speaking the minority language with their child altogether. In those cases, we can predict that the child will cease to learn phenomena not yet acquired in the absence of relevant input, and may even attrite. ...
Article
The central claim of the cognitive science paradigm is that the mind/brain can be thought of as an information-processing device. Classical theories require explicitness about the representations in which knowledge is encoded because processes are denned as algorithms computing over them. In much current second-language acquisition (SLA) research, there is talk of “process” and “processing” without talk of representation or, conversely, proposals about representation with no clarity about how structures are exploited during parsing or production. To accept this state of affairs is not to take the paradigm seriously. I offer an analysis of gender attribution in French L1 and French L2 acquisition to show how one can develop explicit models of acquisition, blending together the findings of linguistics and experimental psycholinguistics.
... The debate over the status of unbalanced BFLA is, in any case, tangential to M's research question. Bonnesen (2007), for example, is concerned with the ways in which unbalanced BFLA is like first and second language acquisition respectively. His study does not address the question of cross-linguistic influence, which is crucial to the question of bilingual acquisition as a mechanism of contact-induced change. ...
... But the validity of this conclusion depends on whether there is cross-linguistic influence between the child's developing grammars. Bonnesen's (2007) data on negation are mostly (with exceptions such as his example (21f)) consistent with his view that the weaker language in unbalanced BFLA is more like a first language, but they are also consistent with the possibility of interaction between the two systems in the form of positive transfer which, because the languages are so similar, is undetectable. When we turn to typologically divergent language pairs such as Japanese-English and Cantonese-English, interactions are unmistakable. ...
Article
Full-text available
Bilingual first language acquisition (BFLA) has been considered a possible mechanism of contact-induced change in several recent studies (Siegel, 2008, p. 117; Satterfield, 2005, p. 2075; Thomason, 2001, p. 148; Yip & Matthews, 2007, p.15). There is as yet little consensus on the question, with divergent views regarding both BFLA at the individual level and the implications for language change at the community level.(Online publication April 01 2011)
... Accordingly, Meisel (2007aMeisel ( , 2007b reviewed the arguments for a 'weak language' and emphasized that there are demonstrable rate of acquisition differences in weaker-language bilinguals but no significant competence differences. Similarly, Bonnesen (2009) carried out a case study of French-German bilinguals with French as a weaker language. He showed that their grammatical development was slower than that of monolinguals but otherwise comparable. ...
... The reality is that amounts of exposure to a given language can change dramatically in a bilingual child's life when parents divorce, when a nanny or babysitter who speaks the minority language leaves the family circle, when the child enters day care or the regular school system, and so on (Silva-Corvalán, 2014). In addition, as Bonnesen's (2009) study reveals, when bilingual children choose to switch into the stronger language or refuse outright to speak the weaker language, parents may use this change in the child's behaviour as a pretext to stop speaking the minority language with their child altogether. In those cases, we can predict that the child will cease to learn phenomena not yet acquired in the absence of relevant input, and may even attrite. ...
Article
This paper presents a theory of inductive learning (i-learning), a form of induction which is neither concept learning nor hypothesis-formation, but rather which takes place within the autonomous and modular representational systems (levels of representation) of the language faculty. The theory is called accordingly the Autonomous Induction Theory. Second language acquisition (SLA) is conceptualized in this theory as: • learning linguistic categories from universal and potentially innate featural primitives; • learning configurations of linguistic units; and • learning correspondences of configurations across the autonomous levels. Here I concentrate on the problem of constraining learning theories and argue that the Autonomous Induction Theory is constrained enough to be taken seriously as a plausible approach to explaining second language acquisition.
... Bei Kindern untersuchten diese Frage unter anderemSchlyter (1993),Bonnesen (2009), Rieckborn (2006 undDöpke (2002). WährendSchlyter (1993) aus ihren Daten schloss, dass die schwächere Muttersprache eher einer L2 gleiche als einer L1, wurde diese Annahme von vielen Seiten kritisiert (z.B.Bonnesen 2009;Rieckborn 2006; Döpke 2002). ...
... Bei Kindern untersuchten diese Frage unter anderemSchlyter (1993),Bonnesen (2009), Rieckborn (2006 undDöpke (2002). WährendSchlyter (1993) aus ihren Daten schloss, dass die schwächere Muttersprache eher einer L2 gleiche als einer L1, wurde diese Annahme von vielen Seiten kritisiert (z.B.Bonnesen 2009;Rieckborn 2006; Döpke 2002). ...
Thesis
This work surveyed adult bilingual speakers in regards to their proficiencies in the use of the definite article in generic utterances. Due to the incomparability with speakers of the English language, this work constitutes fundamental research of the usage of the definite article in German by different groups of speakers: L1-speakers, bilingual heritage speakers, and bilingual majority language speakers. In addition to the four adult groups of speakers, a survey of a group of bilingual children with German as their heritage language (F2L1_Kin) was conducted. All 2L1 distinguished themselves by their great expertise in their two mother tongues (German and French) from heritage speakers in many previous studies. Based on these data, the following research question shall be answered: How susceptible to divergences is the usage of the definite article in different cases of language acquisition? By means of several tests for the usage and interpretation of definite articles in generic utterances which were designed specifically for this research study, the following phenomena were examined: a) the usage of the definite article by L1 speakers (German/French); b) the status of German and French as heritage and majority language, respectively, in the case of simultaneous bilingual speakers; and c) aspects of the development in the semantics of the definite article in the case of adult vs. child speakers of German as heritage language. While English does not allow a definite article in a generic plural noun phrase, and French requires one, for the German language an optional usage of the definite article was discussed which has hitherto not been sufficiently examined. In summary, German features a relatively wide optionality in its usage of the definite article in generic utterances. It has become obvious that a different method of interpretation is necessary for the examination of the usage of definite articles in the heritage language when comparing speakers of English and German. In the case of bilingual speakers, faint difficulties became apparent in French as heritage language (over-acceptance of non-appropriate null articles and indefinite articles in generic sentences), but not in German. In the German tests, a hypercorrecting behavior of the bilingual participants was particularly noticeable – however, only in the majority language, not in the heritage language. These 2L1 speakers often rejected the definite article, which is highly acceptable to L1 speakers. Finally, the results of the German test of bilingual children indicate a “romance-like stage” of overuse of the definite article that vanishes in adulthood.
... Case studies of BFLA children suggest that the proportion of exposure to each language also affects individual children's comparative rate of grammatical development in each language. Bonnesen (2009) and Schlyter (1993) found slower grammatical development in the language that BFLA children were exposed to less frequently, and De Houwer (1990) found a similar rate of grammatical development across both languages for a BFLA child who heard each language about equally (see also Elin Thordardottir, this volume, Paradis, Tremblay, and Crago, this volume, and Unsworth, this volume, for input effects on grammatical development). ...
Chapter
This study examines the actual amount of maternal language input received by young bilingual versus matched monolingual children. All mothers had always addressed their children in Dutch. The bilingual children in addition heard French from other caregivers since they were born. Analyses are based on video recordings of mother-child interaction when children were 13 and 20 months old. There was considerable interindividual variation amongst mothers in how much they talked with their children, regardless of whether mothers were part of a bilingual family or not. Based on analyses of 13 measures of input frequency, no differences emerged in the quantity of language input between mothers in bilingual and monolingual families. A number of bilingual children heard more Dutch from their mothers than children in monolingual families did. This study, likely the first to compare mothers in matched bilingual and monolingual families and to empirically compare maternal input, thus finds no evidence of reduced (maternal) language input for bilingual children. Instead, the absolute amount of maternal language input varied considerably for both bilingual and monolingual children. The study of this variation holds great potential for a better understanding of the underpinnings of bilingual children's language development.
... There have to my knowledge not been any systematic studies of how young children and their families experience uneven development. The few case studies of children with a clearly stronger and weaker language (see, e.g., Bonnesen, 2009, for two children exposed to two languages from birth and S. Montanari, 2005, for three early second language learners) tend to focus on linguistic aspects only, rather than on feelings children and their families might have regarding the fact that one language is clearly less developed than the other one. ...
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Harmonious bilingual development is the experience of well-being in a language contact situation involving young children and their families. While so far no systematic ethnographic studies of harmonious bilingual development exist, the following constituting elements are proposed: the use of parent–child conversations employing basically a single language, children’s active use of two languages rather than just one, and children’s more or less equal proficiency in each language. The factors contributing to these elements most likely are positive attitudes to early bilingualism, discourse socialization patterns and the frequency with which children hear each language. While some research investigating these factors has been initiated, a new theory- and practice-oriented research focus on harmonious bilingual development framed within the larger context of well-being research is needed for a deeper understanding of young children and their families’ positive experience with bilingual development and the factors that may foster it.
... With respect to phonology, the results are more inconclusive, which may have to do with developmental and/or methodological reasons. Studies on child HSs of French in Germany convincingly show that differentiated lexical and grammatical development exists from early on, and high proficiency is attestable in both of the children's languages, even if one of them develops at a slower pace in comparison to the other and to monolingual children (Bonnesen 2009). ...
Article
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Research on child heritage speakers (HSs) has shown successful language acquisition, comparable to monolinguals, whereas research on adult HSs often claims incomplete acquisition. This seems to be an evident contradiction in the current state of research, which may be explained by a possible language shift during adolescence or adulthood, but which does not necessarily have to be equated with a lack of competence. In an overview of the existing studies on child and adult HSs of French in Germany, we show that HSs are not incomplete acquirers of French and we suggest theoretical and practical implications following these findings. Our aim is to show, first, that HSs of French in Germany are not unanimously disadvantaged compared with French speakers in countries where French is a majority language, and second, that complete acquisition is independent of language dominance, a notion that has received particular attention in studies on multilingual and HL acquisition.
... The few existing studies (e.g. Meisel 2007;Bonnesen 2009) use the term "weaker language" to refer to such a language. This is also the term we adopt in this paper (abbreviated to WL); for the dominant language, we will use the abbreviation SL (stronger language). ...
Article
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This study aims to assess the extent of crosslinguistic influence in English as the weaker language of unbalanced bilingual children, and to compare the extent of such influence to that reported in the second language acquisition (SLA) literature. Additionally, by comparing children from different L1 backgrounds, we aim to see if typological distance impacts crosslinguistic influence. We collected elicited speech samples from 16 Polish-English and 44 French-English children who have had dual language input from birth, but whose English is weaker mostly because it is absent outside the home environment. The crosslinguistic error rates (an average of 6%) are lower for our participants than averages found in SLA literature, but still considerably high. Although French-and Polish-dominant children present comparable error profiles, the extent of crosslinguistic influence tends to be greater in the case of French-English bilinguals than for Polish-English bilinguals, which may reflect the perceived distance between the languages.
... Cette étude part de l'observation selon laquelle les locuteurs bilingues natifs arrivent à maîtriser deux systèmes linguistiques de manière optimale (cf. par exemple Bonnesen 2009). Or, la capacité d'acquérir une langue supplémentaire se réduit progressivement avec l'âge de l'individu. ...
Article
*** full text available under: https://journals.openedition.org/rlr/pdf/1488 *** In this article I question the characterization of the faus franceis d’Angleterre as a dialect of Medieval French. I do so first of all on grounds of the fact that Anglo-French (AF) was spoken by an extremely heterogeneous group of speakers coming from very different social and linguistic backgrounds. Therefore, one should not use linguistic factors observed in a given author’s text to draw conclusions regarding AF as a whole. While it is generally accepted that the majority of speakers of AF were bilingual, the scenario of bilingualism from birth only applies to a comparatively small portion of the population. I will show that roughly one half of the texts show features suggesting that the author has an L2 French background. As a consequence, the observed phenomena should not be considered dialectal features of AF as a whole, or as language change characterizing AF in general, but rather as idiolectal features in a given author’s L2. Technically, my argument rests on the distribution of several verb-related (morpho)syntactic phenomena, which set AF apart from continental Old French (OF), namely auxiliary selection, use of the pronoun eux, motion-event descriptions and directed motion constructions. My study is corpus-based and utilizes data from the ANHdb (Anglo-Norman Hub database, cf. Schauwecker and Stein 2016) as well as the BFM (Base de français Médiéval, 2016).
... Von diesem Standpunkt aus gesehen sind die Unterschiede zwischen der schwächeren und der stärkeren Sprache quantitativer und nicht qualitativer Natur (vgl. Meisel 2007b;Cantone et al. 2008;Bonnesen 2009). Demgegenüber vermuten einige Forscher Gemeinsamkeiten zwischen der schwächeren Sprache und dem Zweitspracherwerb. ...
Article
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This article examines the acquisition of German as the weaker language in the cases of German-Polish bilingual children. Focusing on negation and verb position, phenomena that have frequently been taken as diagnostic when distinguishing between the course of language development characteristic for first (L1) and second language acquisition (L2), we analyse experimental and productive data from six simultaneously bilingual children. Due to the constrained input, German is their weaker language. The results in Forced Choice and Grammaticality Judgements tasks are compared with the results of monolingual children. We show that in the area of negation the acquisition of German as the weaker language resembles L1, and in the area of inversion and verb final position the development of the weaker language is delayed. The striking difference between bilinguals’ results in the experimental vs. productive tasks points to specific processing mechanisms in bilingual language use. In narrative contexts of the production tasks the language of the performance is activated, while the other is inhibited, which leads to a target-like performance. Structural properties of the stronger language tend to be activated, however, in the experimental tasks involving the weaker language, resulting in non-target-like responses.
... See Section 2.1 for more discussion of the term. The terms "stronger/weaker language" are discussed in detail by scholars including Meisel (2007), Müller and Pillunat (2008), Cantone and Müller (2008), and Bonnesen (2009). ...
Article
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This study investigates potential shifts in relative language dominance in early sequential bilinguals across the primary school years. The subjects are thirty-eight Polish-English speaking children. We introduce a new test, the Child HALA, which measures shifts in relative language strength by comparing lexical accuracy and access between two languages. This test has been designed specifically for use with children, and is based on the HALA psycholinguistic tool (O'Grady, Schaffer, Perla, Lee, & Wieting, 2009). The aim is to examine its suitability, reliability and applicability in research on language acquisition and maintenance in young bilinguals. In particular, we attempt to evaluate whether the test will show a pattern of shifts in language dominance comparable to the outcomes of previous research (Kohnert, Bates & Hernandez, 1999; Kohnert & Bates, 2002, among others). We find that the Child HALA test discovers reliable results across age groups and languages when compared with other studies that investigated lexical accuracy and access, and therefore may be considered as a reliable method in assessing language strength and maintenance in children. The results show that the children’s relative language dominance shifts from the initially stronger Polish to the more dominant English between the age of eight and eleven.
Chapter
Various kinds of asymmetry in bilingual development have been investigated, with a distinction often being made between the ‘dominant’ and the ‘weaker’ language. One interesting question is to what extent the acquisition of the two languages resembles monolingual acquisition patterns of the languages involved. Some findings point to the independent development of two language systems, indicating that the weaker language, despite developing in a delayed manner, actually follows the same developmental pattern as when it is acquired as the only language. However, other results suggest that the weaker language differs fundamentally from monolingual L1 (or balanced bilingual L1) and resembles an L2, or provide evidence for the separation of both languages and cross-linguistic influences. This Chapter analyses the weaker language output of two unbalanced simultaneous Polish-English bilingual children with the aim of gauging the extent and nature of crosslinguistic influence. While the influence of the weaker language (English) on the stronger one (Polish) was found to be very limited, numerous non-target elements were observed in the weaker language, about half of which can clearly be attributed to crosslinguistic influence.
Article
In this article I make the point that there has been a continuous focus on second language development in second language acquisition research for over 40 years and that there is clear empirical evidence for generalizable developmental patterns. I will both summarize some of the core assumptions of Processability Theory (PT) as an approach to explaining developmental patterns and learner variation and compare the position assumed by PT with the Dynamic Systems Theory approach proposed by de Bot, Lowie, and Verspoor and with O'Grady's processing-based approach to Emergentism. In addition, I will summarize the Teachability Hypothesis and describe its limited relationship to PT in order to respond briefly to the article on the same issue by Zhang and Lantolf in this Special Issue.
Thesis
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This doctoral thesis explores the long-term age of acquisition effects in child second language acquisition by looking at the advanced development of verb and negation placement in L2 German. Besides the age factor, the impact of chronological age and length of exposure is examined. The study included a total of 79 children, subdivided into successive bilingual children, simultaneous bilingual children, and German monolinguals. Data were gathered in Germany using two judgement tasks and two production tasks. Additionally, two measures were considered: general L2 proficiency, measured as general correctness in a sentence repetition task, and decision times in judgment tasks. The results demonstrate that correctness in all tasks is very high (over 80%) and between-group comparisons do not reveal any differences, indicating no long-term effects of age of acquisition on word order development. A ridge regression analysis of the data of successive bilingual children shows positive correlations between length of exposure and correctness of all word order phenomena, but only in judgment tasks. Age of acquisition only turns out to be predictive of general proficiency and decision times, which do not correlate with length of exposure. Post-hoc analyses of age of acquisition effects indicate that first sensitive periods for second language acquisition end around the age of 3 years. Implications for assessing linguistic abilities of bilingual children are suggested. [German] In dieser Dissertation werden langfristige Auswirkungen des Erwerbsalters auf den Erwerb der deutschen Wortstellung im kindlichen L2-Erwerb untersucht. Außer dem Erwerbsalter werden auch das Alter zum Testzeitpunkt und die Kontaktdauer mit der Zweitsprache in Augenschein genommen. An der Studie nahmen 79 Probanden teil, darunter sukzessiv bilinguale, simultan bilinguale und monolinguale Kinder. Die Daten wurden anhand zweier Urteilsaufgaben und zweier Produktionsaufgaben erhoben. Zusätzlich zur syntaktischen Kompetenz der Kinder wurden auch ihre allgemeine grammatische Kompetenz (gemessen als Korrektheit in einer Satzwiederholungsaufgabe) und Reaktionszeiten in den Urteilsaufgaben analysiert. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass die Leistungen aller Kindergruppen insgesamt gleich hoch sind (Korrektheit jeweils über 80 %), was nahelegt, dass das Alter bei Erwerbsbeginn längerfristig keinen Einfluss auf die syntaktische Kompetenz der bilingualen Kinder hat. Positive Korrelationen wurden lediglich zwischen der Kontaktdauer und der Korrektheit aller Wortstellungsmuster festgestellt, jedoch nur in den Urteilsaufgaben. Das Erwerbsalter korreliert dagegen nur mit der allgemeinen grammatischen Kompetenz und mit der Reaktionszeit. Post-hoc-Analysen des Erwerbsalters weisen nach, dass die ersten sensiblen Phasen für den Zweitspracherwerb schon im Alter von ungefähr drei Jahren ausklingen.
Article
Children acquiring their first languages are frequently regarded as the principal agents of diachronic change. The causes and the precise nature of the processes of change are, however, far from clear. The following discussion focuses on possible changes of core properties of grammars which, in terms of the theory of Universal Grammar, can be characterized as reflecting different settings of parameters. In such cases, learners develop grammatical competences differing from those of speakers of the previous generation who provided the primary data serving as input for the developmental processes. It has been argued that reanalyses of this type must be conceived of as instances of transmission failure. Yet acquisition research has demonstrated that the human Language Making Capacity is extraordinarily robust, thus leading to the question of what might cause unsuccessful acquisition. Changing frequencies in use or exposure to data containing ambiguous or even contradictory evidence are unlikely to suffice as causes for this to happen. Language acquisition in multilingual settings may be a more plausible source of grammatical reanalysis than monolingual first language development. The study of contemporary bilingualism can therefore contribute to an explanation of diachronic change. Yet one such insight is that simultaneous acquisition of two languages (2L1) typically leads to a kind of grammatical knowledge in each language which is qualitatively not different from that of the respective monolinguals, obliging us to look for other sources of transmission failure. 2L1 acquisition in settings where one language is “weaker” than the other has been claimed to qualify as such. But I will argue that even such problematic cases do not provide convincing evidence of reanalysis. If, on the other hand, children receive sustained input from second language learners, or if their onset of acquisition is delayed, this can indeed lead to incomplete acquisition. I conclude that successive acquisition of bilingualism plays a crucial role as a source of grammatical change. In order for such changes to happen, however, grammar-internal and language-external factors may have to concur.
Article
This thesis investigates the development of the weak language in early bilingual language acquisition and its results are based on longitudinal and experimental data from 4 Italian-English bilingual children and their parents. The purpose of this thesis is twofold: firstly, to present a new method to assess weak language development and the role of the input in bilingual first language acquisition; secondly, to determine whether there is a relationship between input, weak language development and the acquisition of new information structure. The factors included in the analysis of the weak language are rate of acquisition, production of target-deviant forms, vocabulary, MLU and discourse pragmatics. The results are summarised in the Weak Language Scale. The results are further tested by examining longitudinal and experimental data which are used to test the hypothesis that children who develop Italian as a weak language have difficulty processing subject inversion structures, which require a high processing load due to the interface between syntax and pragmatics. The results of the Weak Language Scale are then compared to those of the Input Scale, which represents the amount of qualitative and quantitative input each child has been exposed to. The final results show that the input plays a major role in bilingual first language acquisition and it has an effect on weak language development. The findings also suggest that linguistic properties at the interface between syntax and pragmatics are harder to process for children who develop Italian as a weak language.
Article
In this article I investigate the question of whether there is German transfer into French in German-French bilingual first language acquisition, using data of two balanced and two unbalanced children of the DuFDE-corpus (see Köppe 1994, Schlyter 1990). The unbalanced children acquire French as their “weaker” language (Schlyter 1990). The theoretical framework on which my analysis is based is the Principles and Parameters approach as in Chomsky (1986). The grammatical domain on which I focus is the left periphery. Recently Platzack (2001) has proposed that in contrast to the IP, the CP, i.e. the left periphery, is vulnerable in bilingualism and that the languages might influence each other in this grammatical domain.The results indicate that in French the left periphery is not vulnerable in bilingual first language acquisition. The general I-to-C-movement rule (verb second) in German is not transferred into French in any of the children. However, the data of one of the four children indicate evidence for lexically restricted influence. There are certain lexical items, là and ici, which regularly trigger the German V2 structure in French, possibly due to German influence. Interestingly, it is one of the balanced children in which such constructions are attested. In the data of the unbalanced children there is no evidence for a vulnerable left periphery at all.
Chapter
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Early child language exhibits a number of properties, e.g. a lack of case and agreement markings, word order patterns deviating from the adult norm, etc., which seem to indicate that child grammars differ in crucial ways from their adult counterparts. This observation might lead to the conclusion that child grammars do not conform to the principles of Universal Grammar (UG) which, according to linguistic theory, shape the grammars of natural languages. Although it is conceivable that these principles are subject to maturation, it is preferable to first explore explanations which will account for the noted particularities of child language without forcing us to assume a difference in kind between developing and mature grammars.
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Ever since the analysis of language development in bilingual children, researchers have been confronted with the issue of language dominance. The present study aims at discussing language dominance from a new perspective. In comparing the development of the two languages of seven bilingual children acquiring German simultaneously with French or Italian, we address the question whether the languages evolve (a) at the same rate and (b) at a “normal” rate. In other words, bilinguals can develop their two languages similarly (if not throughout, at least for certain periods of time) and at a normal rate, that is, not slower than other bilingual (and monolingual) children. In order to examine this hypothesis, we measure the distance between the two languages in the bilingual child and the distance of each language to a pre-calculated norm for the respective language. Based on these results, we establish bilingual learner types, who may be distinguished along the following parameters: (i) Do the languages develop at the same rate? If not, which language develops faster? (ii) Do the languages differ from the “bilingual norm”? If yes, to what extent do they differ from it and do they do so in both languages? The establishment of these types allows us to reconsider the concept of “language dominance”. We assume that dominance may but need not be related to other phenomena of bilingual first language acquisition, such as lack of language separation, cross-linguistic influence and language mixing.
Book
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This book deals with the question of how children exposed to two languages simultaneously from birth learn to speak those two languages. After a critical and comprehensive survey of most of the literature on the subject, the author concludes that empirically well-documented knowledge in this area is very scant indeed. The core of the book concerns a naturalistic study of a Dutch-English bilingual girl around the age of three. The study's main aim is to explore the nature of early bilingual morphosyntactic development. Detailed analyses of most aspects of this development show that a child who hears two separate languages spoken to her reflects this distinctness in the utterances she produces: each language is handled as a system in its own right. Furthermore, the young bilingual three-year-old greatly resembles her monolingual peers in either language. Both these findings, the author concludes, highlight the language-specific nature of the morphosyntactic development process. This book will interest linguists, psycholinguists, developmental psychologists and child language specialists. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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We present a hypothesis for a specific kind of code-mixing in young bilingual children, during the development of their two first languages, one of which is considerably weaker than the other. Our hypothesis, which we label the Ivy Hypothesis, is that, in the interaction meant to be in the weaker language, the child uses portions of higher syntactic structure lexically instantiated in the stronger language combined with lower portions in the weaker language. Code-mixing patterns were studied in five Swedish-French/Italian children aged 2–4. The parts of the code-mixed utterances reflected as much syntactic structure of each language as was used in monolingual utterances in the same recording of each child. This uneven development, which is due to different amounts of input of the two languages, can be accounted for by assuming that syntactic structure is acquired by building each language from the bottom up through lexical learning.
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The lexical layer, headed by the verb, the structural layer in which theta assignment takes place.
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It has been claimed that children simultaneously acquiring two languages go through an initial stage when they are unable to differentiate between their two languages. Such claims have been based on the observation that at times virtually all bilingual children mix elements (e.g. lexical, morphological) from their two languages in the same utterance. That most, if not all, children acquiring two languages simultaneously mix linguistic elements in this way is widely documented. Although such code-mixing is not well understood or explained, there are a number of explanations unrelated to lack of language differentiation that may explain it. Moreover, while language differentiation is widely attested among bilingual children once functional categories emerge, usually during the third year, there is still some question as to how early in development differentiation is present. In this study, we examined language differentiation in five bilingual children prior to the emergence of functional categories (they ranged in age from 1;10 to 2;2 and in MLU from 1.23 to 2.08). They were observed with each parent separately and both together, on separate occasions. Our results indicate that while these children did code mix, they were clearly able to differentiate between their two languages. We also examine the possibility that the children's mixing is due to (a) their language dominance, and (b) their parents' rate of mixing. We could find no evidence that their mixing was due to parental input, but there was some evidence that language dominance played a role.
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This study investigated whether crosslinguistic interference occurs in the domain of subject realization in Spanish in a bilingual acquisition context. We were also interested in exploring whether the source of the interference is due to child-internal crosslanguage contact between English and Spanish, as is commonly assumed, or due to the nature of the language input in a bilingual family, a factor which has not typically been considered in studies of crosslinguistic influence. The use of subjects in a null subject language like Spanish is a phenomenon linked to the pragmatics/syntax interface of the grammar, and thus, is a domain where crosslinguistic interference is predicted to be likely to occur in bilingual acquisition (Müller & Hulk, 2001). Using spontaneous language data available from CHILDES (www.childes.psy.cmu.edu), we examined the use of overt subjects in Spanish by two Spanish monolingual children (ages: 1;81;11) one Spanish2;6) and their parental interlocutors. We looked at the proportions of overt versus null subjects as well as the discourse-pragmatic contexts of overt subject use by the children in order to uncover bilingual/monolingual differences in the distributional properties and the functional determinants of subject realization. We also looked at identical variables in the speech of the children's parental interlocutors to investigate the potential influence of the input on the children's output. Our results suggest that the bilingual child showed patterns in her subject realizations in Spanish that could be interpreted as due to crosslinguistic effects from English; however, there is also evidence that these effects may have a source in the input, rather than resulting from internal crosslanguage contact. While our data do not permit us to distinguish conclusively between these two possible sources, they indicate that future research on crosslinguistic influence in bilingual acquisition should take input into account.
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this paper 1 , we present new evidence from Adam (CHILDES, Brown 1973 and MacWhinney in press) that suggests that not all missing subjects in early child English can be reduced to performance limitations or Diary/Topic Drop. Between age 2;3 and age 2;11 (files 1-18), Adam produces numerous Wh-questions without an overt subject (e.g. "Where go?") and the VP-length of these examples is not greater than the VP-length in Whquestions with an overt subject pronoun. Adam's data moreover display a clear-cut distinction between finite (i.e. agreeing) and non-finite (i.e. non-agreeing) Wh-questions. Whereas the number of empty subjects in finite Wh-questions is negligible, there are almost 1 Portions of this paper where presented at the Workshop on the L1- and L2-Acquisition of ClauseInternal Rules at the University of Berne, the Conference on Generative Studies of the Acquisition of Case and Agreement at Essex University, at the Language Acquisition Group at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and at the Computational Linguistics Feedback Forum at the University of Pennsylvania. We thank those audiences, Hagit Borer, Peggy Speas, Anne Vainikka, Ken Wexler and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and criticism. Naturally, all errors are ours. One of us (Rohrbacher) was supported by NSF grant SBR-8920230. 2 as many non-finite Wh-questions without an overt subject as non-finite Wh-questions with an overt subject pronoun. 2 In the first eleven files, there are in fact five times as many empty subjects as overt subject pronouns in non-finite Wh-questions. The same correlation between non-finiteness and lack of subject turns up in Adam's negative declaratives and has in fact been reported in the literature for many children acquiring languages other than English. Neit...
Chapter
The aim of this paper is to find out whether the initial word combinations of children are organized according to some principle (or a number of principles) and to determine what that principle is.
Chapter
Cognitive development in general and linguistic development in particular proceed through ordered phases. This is one of the most important insights of developmental psychology since Piaget which has been confirmed many times by language acquisition studies, for first as well as for second language acquisition. Numerous empirical studies have shown that an invariable developmental sequence exists which can be defined in terms of linguistic structures emerging in children's language use. Surprisingly little, however, is known about the developmental phases which characterize the acquisition of French as a first language. This is even more astonishing in view of the fact that an impressive amount of studies exist analyzing the language of monolingual French children; see the comprehensive bibliography compiled by Lightbown (1983). We would like to refer to E. Clark (1985) for an interesting state-of-the-art description of the available results on this topic. In spite of these efforts, we only possess rather fragmentary information concerning the question of the chronological order in which grammatical features of French emerge. Even less is known about what may be considered to be invariable developmental patterns, as opposed to individual or group-specific variation. And it remains largely mysterious at what point of development approximately (in terms of age or of MLU = Mean Length of Utterance) specific structures begin to be used.
Chapter
In this chapter, some general facts will be given, which constitute the common background to the analyses presented in the following chapters.
Book
Language acquisition is a human endeavor par excellence. As children, all human beings learn to understand and speak at least one language: their mother tongue. It is a process that seems to take place without any obvious effort. Second language learning, particularly among adults, causes more difficulty. The purpose of this series is to compile a collection of high-quality monographs on language acquisition. The series serves the needs of everyone who wants to know more about the problem of language acquisition in general and/or about language acquisition in specific contexts.
Chapter
In this chapter, I want to study the following questions: 1. How do grammatical means of expressing temporal relations develop? When do verb forms represent analysed tense morphemes? When does the child depart from the "here-and-now"? 2. What is common and what is different in the development of the two language systems by one child? To what extent does the child separate the two languages: does the child behave like two monolinguals (cf. Meisel, 1989, de Houwer, 1987), or does he have one single system? 3. Does the child, as suggested by the "cognitivisr approach (Slobin, 1973, Johnston, 1985, etc.), try to 'encode' the same concept in his/her two languages at the same time? Or can it be that the child acquires not only certain forms but also the corresponding functions earlier and more easily in one of the languages?
Article
This article re-examines the morphology/functional category debate in the light of empirical data drawn from the author's longitudinal study of two intermediate learners of French as a second language (L2). It argues that inflectional deficits -which appear both as nonfinite verbs and as other morphological errors in the interlanguage data -support neither a codependence of syntax and morphology (Eubank, 1993/94) nor a gradual structure-building of L2 functional categories (Vainikka and Young-Scholten, 1998a, 1998b). The French data rather indicate that deficiencies in morphological mapping, not defective syntax (functional categories), are the cause of L2 failed inflection (Schwartz and Sprouse, 1996; Lardière, 1998). The data also support the claim that L2 morpholexical characteristics - the most prone to cross-linguistic variation - are more difficult to master than syntactic differences (Herschensohn, 2000). The first section reviews the theoretical issues, discussing the morphology/functional category link in L1 and then in L2 acquisition. The second section presents relevant data on infinitival forms and other errors from the author's study. The third section discusses the data, arguing that the infinitival forms of intermediate grammars are not ‘root infinitives’ such as those seen in early stages of L1 acquisition, but rather examples of defective inflection.
Chapter
In this paper I will argue that child first language (L1) acquisition and adult second language (L2) acquisition are guided by distinct sets of principles. In particular, I argue that adult L2 acquisition follows from general learning strategies, while child L1 acquisition primarily follows from principles of Univesal Grammar (UG). This claim was originally made by Clahsen and Muysken (1986), in order to account for observed differences between children and adults with regard to the acquisition of German word order. The present study provides additional support for our original hypothesis by comparing the emergence of agreement markings in adult L2 learners of German and child L1 learners of German.
Article
The present study examined the acquisition of tense and agreement by L2 learners of French. We looked at whether the features and and the categories AGRP and TP emerged simultaneously or in sequence in the learners' grammars.We conducted interviews with English-speaking children acquiring French as a second language and with grade-matched native-speaker controls once a year for three years. The data were analysed for the productive use of morphosyntax encoding tense and agreement. Results revealed that items encoding agreement emerged before items encoding tense, suggesting that the abstract grammatical structures associated with these morphosyntax items emerge in sequence. The findings are interpreted with respect to three prevailing views on the acquisition of functional phrase structure in L2 acquisition: the Lexical Transfer/Minimal Trees hypothesis (Vainikka and Young-Scholten, 1994; 1996a; 1996b), the Weak Transfer/Valueless Features hypothesis (Eubank, 1993/94; 1994; 1996) and the Full Transfer/Full Access hypothesis (Schwartz and Sprouse, 1994;1996). Possible reasons for the existence of this acquisition sequence in French are also discussed.
Article
The acquisition of negation is perhaps the best-studied syntactic phenomenon in early interlanguage research,and many of these publications concluded that first (L1) and second language (L2) development had much more in common than had previously been assumed. In the present paper, the problem of whether the same underlying principles and mechanisms guide L1 and L2 acquisition will be re-examined from the perspective of more recent grammatical theory. The empirical basis consists of longitudinal case-studies of the acquisition of French and German as first and second languages. The L2 learners' first language is Spanish. In L1 data one finds a rapid, uniform and almost error-free course of development across languages exhibiting quite different morphosyntactic means of expressing negation. This is explained in terms of Parameter Theory, primarily referring to functional categories determining the placement of finite verbal elements. L2 acquisition, on the other hand, is characterized by considerable variability, not only crosslinguistically, but also across learners and even within individuals. This can be accounted for by assuming different strategies of language use. More importantly, different kinds of linguistic knowledge are drawn upon in L1 as opposed to L2. It is claimed that adult L2 learners, rather than using structure-dependent operations constrained by Universal Grammar (UG), rely primarily on linear sequencing strategies which apply to surface strings.
Article
This article re-examines the morphology/functional category debate in the light of empirical data drawn from the author’s longitudinal study of two intermediate learners of French as a second language (L2). It argues that inflectional deficits -which appear both as nonfinite verbs and as other morphological errors in the interlanguage data -support neither a codependence of syntax and morphology (Eubank, 1993/94) nor a gradual structure-building of L2 functional categories (Vainikka and Young-Scholten, 1998a, 1998b). The French data rather indicate that deficiencies in morphological mapping, not defective syntax (functional categories), are the cause of L2 failed inflection (Schwartz and Sprouse, 1996; Lardière, 1998). The data also support the claim that L2 morpholexical characteristics - the most prone to cross-linguistic variation - are more difficult to master than syntactic differences (Herschensohn, 2000). The first section reviews the theoretical issues, discussing the morphology/functional category link in L1 and then in L2 acquisition. The second section presents relevant data on infinitival forms and other errors from the author’s study. The third section discusses the data, arguing that the infinitival forms of intermediate grammars are not ‘root infinitives’ such as those seen in early stages of L1 acquisition, but rather examples of defective inflection.
Article
Around the age of 2, language learners typically produce main declaratives with verbs in the infinitival form. It is claimed that such root infinitives are truncated structures, arising from the option of "stripping off" external clausal layers. The basic properties of the construction are shown to be amenable to the Truncation Hypothesis: Root infinitives are incompatible with wh-elements, subject critics, auxiliaries, and so forth. The virtual nonoccurrence of the construction in early Italian follows from the Truncation Hypothesis in conjunction with independent properties of Italian infinitives with respect to V-to-I movement. The Truncation Hypothesis also relates root infinitives to other properties of early grammatical systems, such as the option of omitting subjects in root contexts.
Article
A bilingual child’s development of word order in German and English subordinate clauses was followed between three and five years of age, and a number of diversions from the development of word order in such clauses by monolingual children was noted. Of particular interest is the fact that incorrect dependent clause structures in German were more likely to be due to intra-language influences from German main clause structures than from English. The findings are discussed in the light UG claims made by Clahsen (1988) concerning the word order development in monolingual children.
Article
Vainikka and Young-Scholten (1994; in press) argued that adult language learners initially project verb phrases and that subsequent projection of functional categories is input driven, with inflectional phrases emerging before complementizer phrases. They assumed that the same is true for first-language acquisition (Clahsen, Eisenbeiss, and Vainikka (1994)). On this account, one would expect child second language (L2) learners to lack functional categories in the early stages of language learning. In this article, we argue against this position using data drawn from a longitudinal corpus of spontaneous production data from two English-speaking children who started attending French kindergarten at age 5. Our data suggest that functional categories and their projections are present in the earliest utterances available. Relevant data include the productive use of determiners, inflection, case marking, subject clitics, wh-questions, and correct negative placement. Changes were largely quantitative rather than qualitative in both children, with no radical shifts in the grammar as regards functional projections. These data do not support the claim for a purely lexical stage in child L2 acquisition.
Article
While it is now commonly accepted that simultaneous bilingual children can differentiate their two languages from very early in development, it is still not very well understood how they come to understand that there are two languages in their input. The purpose of this study was to examine how a bilingual child might come to an understanding of the existence of two languages in terms of pragmatic differentiation (use of the appropriate language for the context) and lexical differentiation (use of translation equivalents). Using data from a Portuguese-English bilingual child from 1;0 to 1;6, this study showed that the child showed evidence of pragmatic differentiation before lexical differentiation. If these results are replicated, they suggest that bilingual children's understanding of the appropriate social use of their two languages may lead to an understanding that the translation equivalents in their vocabulary belong to two distinct input languages.
Article
Past research demonstrates that first language (L1)-like competence in each language can be attained in simultaneous acquisition of bilingualism by mere exposure to the target languages. The question is whether this is also true for the “weaker” language (WL). The WL hypothesis claims that the WL differs fundamentally from monolingual L1 and balanced bilingual L1 and resembles second language (L2) acquisition. In this article, these claims are put to a test by analyzing “unusual” constructions in WLs, possibly indicating acquisition failure, and by reporting on analyses of the use of French by bilinguals whose dominant language is German. The available evidence does not justify the claim that WLs resemble L2. Instead, it shows that WL development can be delayed, but does not suggest acquisition failure. Finally, reduced input is unlikely to cause acquisition failure. The fundamental issue at stake is to explore the limits of the human language making capacity.
Article
In this article I investigate the question of whether there is German transfer into French in German-French bilingual first language acquisition, using data of two balanced and two unbalanced children of the DuFDE-corpus (see Köppe 1994, Schlyter 1990). The unbalanced children acquire French as their “weaker” language (Schlyter 1990). The theoretical framework on which my analysis is based is the Principles and Parameters approach as in Chomsky (1986). The grammatical domain on which I focus is the left periphery. Recently Platzack (2001) has proposed that in contrast to the IP, the CP, i.e. the left periphery, is vulnerable in bilingualism and that the languages might influence each other in this grammatical domain.The results indicate that in French the left periphery is not vulnerable in bilingual first language acquisition. The general I-to-C-movement rule (verb second) in German is not transferred into French in any of the children. However, the data of one of the four children indicate evidence for lexically restricted influence. There are certain lexical items, là and ici, which regularly trigger the German V2 structure in French, possibly due to German influence. Interestingly, it is one of the balanced children in which such constructions are attested. In the data of the unbalanced children there is no evidence for a vulnerable left periphery at all.
Der Erwerb der linken Satzperipherie bei Französisch/Deutsch bilingual aufwachsenden Kindern
  • M Bonnesen
On doubling and null argument languages
  • Roberge
V2 ou V3? La position du verbe fléchi en français chez des enfants bilingues français–allemand
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Erst- und Zweitspracherwerb im Vergleich (Französisch/Deutsch): Der Erwerb der Wortstellung bei bilingualen Kindern und erwachsenen Lernern
  • A Möhring