Learning to think for speaking about space in child bilingualism

To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.


An unresolved question in early child bilingualism research concerns the extent to which the acquisition of semantic and conceptual domains is affected by age of onset. This paper compares how reference to caused motion events (Talmy 2000) is acquired in French by early successive and simultaneous bilingual children. Elicited event verbalizations reveal that both bilingual groups diverge considerably from monolingual children and manifest response tendencies mid-way between English and French monolinguals. The effect of age of onset is outweighed by language-specific factors that give rise to convergence strategies. This result is argued to be motivated by the lack of transparency associated with the French system and the partial overlap with English.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

... Previous research on the acquisition of voluntary motion has mainly focused on monolingual acquisition of s-and v-languages and on successive and simultaneous bilingual acquisition of s-and v-languages (e.g. Engemann, 2016;Nicoladis & Brisard, 2002), often contrasting English and French. ...
... English-speaking children systematically express manner and path, although children younger than six tend to give more path-only than manner-only descriptions when encoding a single information component (Ji et al., 2011). French-speaking children mostly focus on path (Hickmann, 2006;Hickmann et al., 2018), or a mixed pattern (Engemann, 2016), unless they do not master the appropriate path verbs and hence, focus on manner (Hickmann, 2006;Hickmann et al., 2008). Allen et al. (2007) found that some elements in v-languages might be more difficult to learn, such as using two verbal clauses to express manner and path. ...
... In a study of monolinguals and five-and seven-year-old successive bilinguals with Turkish (a v-language) as their first and English as their second language, Aktan-Erciyes (2020) suggested that early acquisition of a typologically different L2 has an impact on how motion events are encoded. Engemann (2016) noted that English-French successive and simultaneous bilingual children frequently encoded path outside the main verb and that they did not fully converge with French monolinguals' response patterns, instead showing a preference for satellite-framing. ...
Full-text available
Language in school, leisure time, and working life: Current arenas for Swedish research in applied linguistics
... Note that Miller et al.'s (2018) analysis is based on the overall encoding of path and manner, without distinguishing between verbs and satellites. Our own previous research on the acquisition of caused motion expression in early successive and simultaneous English-French bilingual children (Engemann, 2012(Engemann, , 2016Harr & Engemann, 2011) suggested prolific asymmetric CLI in the opposite direction from what was reported in Miller et al. (2018). Bilinguals' French descriptions showed evidence of pervasive influence from English S-framing strategies, whereas English expressions showed little influence from French. ...
... The scarce evidence available to date on bilingual children is inconclusive and too heterogeneous to allow for meaningful comparisons. It is unclear, for instance, why the two studies on simultaneous English-French bilingual children (Engemann, 2016;Miller et al., 2018) arrived at different results concerning the directionality of CLI. It is possible that the type of motion event described (complex caused versus simple voluntary motion) and the different outcome measures used play a role. ...
... Mixed logit models were fitted with The non-boundary-crossing condition included two targets instead of one because the materials by Hickmann and colleagues (2009b) were designed to test a hypothesised difference between up-and down-trajectories in French, where verbs jointly lexicalising path and manner are available for upward but not for downward motion (e.g., grimper 'to crawl upwards'). 3 These categories were based on our previous findings of target-deviant idiosyncrasies in English-French bilinguals' descriptions of caused motion (Engemann, 2012(Engemann, , 2016. 4 There was no theoretically motivated reason to analyse satellites encoding manner as they are not characteristic of either of the two typological framing strategies. ...
Full-text available
Simultaneous bilingual children sometimes display crosslinguistic influence (CLI), widely attested in the domain of morphosyntax. It remains less clear whether CLI affects bilinguals’ event construal, what motivates its occurrence and directionality, and how developmentally persistent it is. The present study tested predictions generated by the structural overlap hypothesis and the co-activation account in the motion event domain. 96 English–French bilingual children of two age groups and 96 age-matched monolingual English and French controls were asked to describe animated videos displaying voluntary motion events. Semantic encoding in main verbs showed bidirectional CLI. Unidirectional CLI affected French path encoding in the verbal periphery and was predicted by the presence of boundary-crossing, despite the absence of structural overlap. Furthermore, CLI increased developmentally in the French data. It is argued that these findings reflect highly dynamic co-activation patterns sensitive to the requirements of the task and to language-specific challenges in the online production process.
... La prédiction est donc la suivante : on trouvera, en anglo-français, plus qu'en ancien français continental, des traits qui font preuve d'un mode de perception et/ou expression satellite, comme, notamment, les descriptions de déplacements, riche en détails (Cadierno 2004 ;Navarro et Nicolaidis 2006). En outre, partant des travaux de Croft, Barðdal, et Hollmann (2010), Pourcel et Kopecka (2005) et d 'Engemann (2013'Engemann ( , 2016 entre autres, on s'attend à trouver des idiosyncrasies dans l'usage des tournures à cadrage verbal que l'on ne trouve pas dans les textes OF, comme, notamment les constructions à cadrage double et symétrique, voire aussi la satellisation de certaines prépositions. Dans ce qui suit, je présenterai d'abord quelques constructions idiosyncratiques relatives à l'expression du déplacement par les verbes du trajet avant de parler des constructions talmiennes proprement dites concernant des verbes du mode de déplacement. ...
... La satellisation représente un mécanisme d'influence interlinguistique dans lequel certaines prépositions sont utilisées en tant que particule, dans un sens dynamique, et sans qu'elles soient suivies d'un nom. On a remarqué l'usage de prépositions satellisées chez les enfants bilingues (françaisanglais), notamment dans le contexte des événements across (Engemann 2013(Engemann , 2016 11 . Pour ne pas dépasser les limites du présent article, je me borne ici à donner deux exemples pour illustrer mon propos, concernant les prépositions parmi « par » et sur « on ». ...
*** full text available under: *** 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).
Previous decades have seen many studies on the expression of motion in language. Most are based on Talmy's (1985) motion event typology. While providing robust support for the typology, variations within and across typological groups have also been reported, leading to proposals to either expand the typology (Slobin, 2004, Ameka and Essegbey, 2013) or to understand it as a set of strategies that languages avail themselves of (Beavers et al., 2010; Croft et al., 2010). To further contribute to this line of research, this article examines the expression of voluntary motion by adult speakers of a Turkic language, modern Uyghur. Our analyses reveal that Uyghur is a prototypically verb-framed language. It is different from English (considered satellite-framed) at all levels of analysis and is systematic in adopting verb-framed lexicalisation patterns alike Turkish and to a lesser extent French. Our data lend support for Talmy's (2000) typology as conceived in a strategy-based typological framework (Croft et al., 2010; Hendriks & Hickmann, 2015).
Full-text available
The description of motion events in Anglo-French, the variety of Old French that developed in Mediaeval England, differs strikingly from that in continental Old French. These differences can be accounted for by assuming contact influence from s-framed Middle English on (predominantly) v-framed Old French. Based on my investigation of Path verbs (monter, ascendre, descendre, avaler, entrer, sortir, passer) in the Base du Français Médiéval and in the Anglo-Norman Hub database, I observed that: 1. rich Path descriptions occur more often in AF (roughly 10:1). 2. reverse v-framing (Pourcel & Kopecka 2008) does not seem to be attested, whereas pseudo-v-framing constructions, in which both syntactical slots, the main verb as well as the gerundive, express Path only, do occur. This is interesting, because this type of construction virtually does not occur in OF. 3. While satellisation of prepositions (Engemann 2012) is rare and seems to be ideosyncratic, there seem to be certain differences in the way particles are used (e.g. outre).
Full-text available
This study compared the language abilities of simultaneous-bilingual children in German to the abilities of German monolinguals and to the abilities of early second language learners of German. 160 children aged 4;0 to 5;0 years were assessed with the standardized language test Lise-DaZ, testing 11 different language phenomena. The results indicate a unique profile for simultaneous bilinguals. No differences to monolinguals were found for phenomena acquired early in monolingual acquisition of German. Parallels to early second language learners were observed for phenomena acquired late by monolinguals. With regard to language assessment, our findings demonstrate the need for separate norms for simultaneous bilinguals; otherwise misdiagnosis is likely. Keywords: Age of acquisition, multilingual, monolingual, Lise-Daz, language assessment Zusammenfassung Diese Studie untersucht, ob die sprachlichen Fähigkeiten von simultan-bilingualen Kindern eher mit denen monolingualer Kinder oder mit denen früher Zweitsprachlerner vergleichbar sind. 160 Kinder im Alter von 4;0-5;0 Jahren wurden mit dem Sprachtest Lise-DaZ im Hinblick auf verschiedene sprachliche Phänomene des Deutschen untersucht. Die simultan-bilingualen Kinder zeigten ein eigenes Erwerbsprofil. Keine Unterschiede zu monolingualen Kindern bestanden in Phänomenen, die im monolingualen Erwerb früh gemeistert werden, während sich für spät erworbene Phänomene Parallelen zu frühen Zweitsprachlernern zeigten. Bei Verwendung nicht erwerbstypengerechter Normen in der Sprachdiagnostik besteht daher ein hohes Risiko für Fehldiagnosen. Schlagwörter: Erwerbsalter, mehrsprachig, monolingual, Lise-Daz, Sprachdiagnostik
This study investigates the combined effects of Age of Onset of Acquisition (AOA) and quality and quantity of input on the development of three grammatical structures in French. In a longitudinal and multiple case study including successive (L2) Swedish-French bilingual children (n = 3), simultaneous (2L1) Swedish-French bilingual children (n = 3) and monolingual French children (n = 3), we examine the development of finite verb forms, object pronouns and subject-verb agreement. A distinction is made between structures that are early/late in different modes of acquisition and less/more difficult. The operationalization of quantity and quality of input is based on individual input profiles. The results show that AOA affects the development of less difficult and early grammatical structures whereas AOA has no influence on more difficult structures that are acquired late. An effect of input is found in the 2L1 children, and in some of the L2 children. This effect is most clear with more difficult and late structures.