General programme, activity sheet

Thursday 18 September, 2014 12:00 to 12:30 Oral presentation
The role of input in the acquisition of mood by heritage speakers of European Portuguese
Authors: Cristina Flores, Ana Lúcia Santos, Rui Marques, Alice Jesus

The amount of input to which a bilingual child is exposed to seems to be crucial in bilingual language acquisition (Unsworth, 2013). It has been argued that heritage speakers (HSs) differ from native speakers because they have reduced contact with their heritage language (HL), especially from the moment they enter (pre)school (Montrul, 2008). Conversely, many studies on bilingual acquisition have shown that early bilinguals acquire their languages in a native-like way (Meisel, 2001), even with less input than monolinguals. However most studies on simultaneous bilingualism have focused on properties that are acquired in early stages of development. Less is known about structures that are fixed in later ages, when heritage children have significantly less input than their monolingual counterparts. This study contributes to this discussion by analyzing the acquisition of a «late property»: mood choice in complement clauses. The participants are 40 child HSs of EP (age 6-15) that differ in age and amount of exposure to EP and 10 adult HSs, all living in Germany. 80 monolingual children (age 4-9) constitute the baseline group (Jesus, in prep.). An elicited production task tested mood choice in six conditions according to the verbs in the matrix clause. Preliminary results show that both factors (age and amount of input) influence the acquisition of mood in EP HL. Younger HSs (6-8 years) overgeneralize the indicative, whereas older heritage children (older than 10) and the adults produce subjunctives in a (nearly) native-like way. Furthermore, the HSs whose dominant home language is Portuguese reveal a faster acquisition process than the children who speak also German at home. The results suggest that HSs follow a similar acquisition pattern as monolinguals, but the process appears to be delayed (Flores & Barbosa, 2012). HSs seem to need more exposure accumulated over time in order to acquire this property. References Flores, C., & Barbosa, P. (2012). When reduced input leads to delayed acquisition: a study on the acquisition of clitic placement by Portuguese heritage speakers. The International Journal of Bilingualism, OnlineFirst. Jesus, A. (in prep.). Aquisição do modo em orações completivas do PE. MA Dissertation. University of Lisbon. Meisel, J. M. (2001). The Simultaneous Acquisition of Two First Languages: Early Differentiation and Subsequent Development of Grammars. In J. Cenoz & F. Genesee (eds), Trends in Bilingual Acquisition, 11–41. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Montrul, S. (2008). Incomplete Acquisition in Bilingualism: Re-examining the Age Factor. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Unsworth, S. (2013). Assessing the role of current and cumulative exposure in simultaneous bilingual acquisition: The case of Dutch gender. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 16 (1), 86-110.
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Paper session A1
Place: Room 0

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