General programme, activity sheet

Thursday 18 September, 2014 15:30 to 16:00 Oral presentation
Cross-linguistic influence in early language acquisition: Advantages of 3L1 trilingualism. Results from a pilot study
Authors: Laia Arnaus Gil, Jasmin Geveler, Anika Schmeißer.

Studies on bilingual first language acquisition have revealed that some grammatical phenomena are vulnerable to cross-linguistic influence depending on the language combination (Müller&Hulk2001). This may result in an accelerated/delayed acquisition process if compared to monolinguals (Authors2010, Authors to appear). For instance, the Romance language of a German-French/Italian child has a boot-strapping effect when acquiring German verb placement (Author2009). By contrast, Romance adjective placement and Spanish copulas are prone to delay when acquired simultaneously with German (Authors2013, Author2013). The occurrence of cross-linguistic influence has been explained in terms of derivational complexity in the sense of Jakubowicz (2002). To give an example: Assuming Kayne’s (1994) Universal Base Hypothesis, Spanish adjectives exhibit two positions, one being syntactically less complex (A+N) than the other (N+A). German, however, allows the less complex analysis only. Therefore, bilingual children mostly use the latter resulting in a delayed acquisition of Spanish adjective placement. A bilingual delayed acquisition process might also be present in early trilingualism due to language processing (Grosjean2001, Serratrice&Sorace2003). Yet, we hypothesize that a specific language constellation in trilinguals can turn a delayed bilingual acquisition into an accelerated development. This may be the case if the third L1 also exhibits the more complex derivation. Evidence for this prediction has been found in a study on Spanish copula acquisition by early German-Spanish(-Catalan) children (Author2013). For the acquisition of Romance adjective placement, our assumption implies that trilinguals can take advantage of their third L1 if this language has also access to the more complex derivation. Our present cross-sectional study investigates the elicited data of these two grammatical phenomena in approx. 40 children being raised multilingually in Spain with the language combinations Spanish-German(-Catalan/X) and Spanish-French(-Catalan/X). This research is part of a larger study and still in a fledgling stage. We will present the first main results.
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Paper session B
Place: Main Room

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