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Acquiring complex structures under minority language conditions: Bilingual acquisition of plural morphology in Welsh*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 November 2013

ENLLI MÔN THOMAS
Affiliation:
College of Business, Law, Education and Social Sciences, Bangor University & ESRC Centre for Research on Bilingualism in Theory and Practice
NIA WILLIAMS
Affiliation:
College of Business, Law, Education and Social Sciences, Bangor University
LLINOS ANGHARAD JONES
Affiliation:
College of Business, Law, Education and Social Sciences, Bangor University
SUSI DAVIES
Affiliation:
ESRC Centre for Research on Bilingualism in Theory and Practice
HANNA BINKS
Affiliation:
College of Business, Law, Education and Social Sciences, Bangor University
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

This study explored the effects of quantity and quality of input on bilingual children's acquisition of complex plural morphology in Welsh. Study 1 explored the quality of adult input and revealed target-like marking of plural forms in naturalistic adult speech. Study 2 presented eighty-eight 7–11-year-old children, across three bilingual language groups (L1 Welsh, 2L1, and L2 Welsh), with a plural production task. Results revealed performances approaching L1 adult norms among L1 Welsh-speaking bilinguals, but delayed progression among 2L1 and L2 Welsh bilinguals, although analyses of errors revealed various levels of structural knowledge. Forms requiring the addition of a plural suffix were less difficult to acquire than those involving alterations to the root, with each type acquired with greater levels of accuracy with increasing levels of exposure to the language. The implications of these findings for our understanding of bilingual acquisition of complex structures under minority language conditions are discussed.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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Footnotes

*

Part of this work was funded by a Development Fund Grant from the ESRC Centre for Research on Bilingualism in Theory and Practice. We wish to express our sincere gratitude to all participating schools for their kindness and time, and all parents and children who took part in the research. We also wish to thank the anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

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