General programme, activity sheet

Wednesday 7 September, 2016 Poster
Does linguistic similarity affect early simultaneous bilingual language acquisition?
Speaker: Antje Endesfelder Quick, University of Leipzig

Authors: Anja Gampe, Antje Endesfelder Quick and Moritz M. Daum


The current study examined whether linguistic similarity between a bilingual toddler’s two languages has an influence on lexical and morpho-syntactic development. Linguistic similarity of each children’s pair of languages was determined in two ways. Phonological distance was calculated using the ASJP database which is based on Levenshtein distance (Holman et al. 2011, Wichmann et al. 2013). Morpho-syntactic similarity measure was determined using the WALS (Dryer and Haspelmath, 2013). Relative similarity of each child’s two languages was calculated based on the number of shared WALS features in morphology and word-order divided by the total number of compared features (Hamming distance, cf., Cysouw 2013). Study 1 assessed vocabulary and morpho-syntactic skills in 204 bilingual children between 18 and 30 months acquiring Swiss German and another language simultaneously using a parental questionnaire (FRAKIS, Szagun, Stumper, and Schramm 2009). A partial correlation (controlling for age, parental education and language exposure) between the children’s vocabulary scores and the ASJP-and WALS similarity revealed a small significant similarity effect, (ASJP: r = - .154, p = .036, WALS: r = .141, p = .049. In study 2 we also collected vocabulary scores in the child’s L2. We analyzed the effect of language similarity for 102 children aged 18 to 36 months acquiring Swiss German and either High German, English, Spanish, French, Italian using a parental questionnaire in both languages. Results showed that both measures of language similarity were significant for Swiss German (ASJP-similarity: r(74) = - .305, p = .007, WALS-similarity r(74) = .296, p = .009). Partial correlations between language similarity and the children’s vocabulary scores in their non-Swiss German language revealed also significant results (ASJP-similarity: r(69) = - .495, p < .001,WALS-similarity r(69) = .483, p < .001). These findings suggest that language similarity is a further factor that possibly affects bilingual first language acquisition.
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Coffee break and poster session
Place: Hall First floor area A

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10:30 h. to 11:30 h.Coffee break

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