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Connective use in the narratives of bilingual children and monolingual children with SLI*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 September 2015

Utrecht University
Utrecht University
Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia
Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia
Utrecht University
Address for correspondence: Dr. Elena Tribushinina, Utrecht Institute of Linguistics, Trans 10, 3512 JK Utrecht, The Netherlands,


Differences between monolinguals and bilinguals are often attributed to crosslinguistic influence. This paper compares production of discourse connectives by Dutch–Russian bilinguals (Dutch-dominant), typically-developing Dutch/Russian monolinguals and Russian-speaking children with SLI. If non-target-like production in bilinguals is due to crosslinguistic influence, bilinguals should perform differently from both impaired and unimpaired monolinguals. However, if differences between bilinguals and monolinguals are due to other factors (e.g., input quantity, processing capacities), bilinguals’ language production might be similar to that of children with SLI. The results demonstrate that language dominance determines the direction of crosslinguistic influence. In terms of frequency distributions of Russian connectives across pragmatic contexts, the bilingual group performed differently from both monolingual groups and the differences were compatible with the structural properties of Dutch. However, based on error rates and types bilinguals could not be distinguished from the SLI group, suggesting that factors other than crosslinguistic influence may also be at play.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers and the Associate Editor for their valuable constructive comments. We are also very grateful to all children, parents and teachers who have made this investigation possible. Rinsophie Vellinga kindly helped with connective coding for Study 1. This research was supported by a Marie Curie International Research Staff Exchange Scheme Fellowship within the 7th European Community Framework Programme (grant number 269173).


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