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Crosslinguistic transfer in the acquisition of compound words in Persian–English bilinguals*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 September 2009

University of Alberta
University of Alberta
Address for correspondence: Farzaneh Foroodi-Nejad, Department of Linguistics, 4-32 Assiniboia Hall, Edmonton, AB, T6G


Crosslinguistic transfer in bilingual language acquisition has been widely reported in various linguistic domains (e.g., Döpke, 1998; Nicoladis, 1999; Paradis, 2001). In this study we examined structural overlap (Döpke, 2000; Müller and Hulk, 2001) and dominance (Yip and Matthews, 2000) as explanatory factors for crosslinguistic transfer in Persian–English bilingual children's production of novel compound words. Nineteen Persian monolinguals, sixteen Persian–English bilinguals, and seventeen English monolinguals participated in a novel compound production task. Our results showed crosslinguistic influence of Persian on English and of English on Persian. Bilingual children produced more right-headed compounds in Persian, compared with Persian monolinguals, and in their English task, they produced more left-headed compounds than English monolinguals. Furthermore, Persian-dominant bilinguals tended more towards left-headed compounds in Persian than the English-dominant group. These findings point to both structural overlap and language dominance as factors underlying crosslinguistic transfer.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009

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We would like to express our appreciation to the children, parents and teachers in Iran and Canada whose cooperation made this research possible. We are also grateful to Ms. Fatemeh Farzadfar, Ms. Mojdeh Koohi, Ms. Naseem Mohajeri and the Iranian Students' Association at the University of Alberta who helped us to find participants. Many thanks to Bahar Foroodi-Nejad, Elaheh Foroodi-Nejad, Hamid Maei and Noreen Kassam for their assistance in collecting the data. The manuscript profited from valuable comments by three anonymous reviewers.


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