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Adjective placement in simultaneous bilinguals (German–Italian) and the concept of cross-linguistic overcorrection*



Cross-linguistic influence (CLI) has been claimed to occur under the conditions of structural overlap, interfacing, syntactic complexity and language dominance. This study tested adjective placement in the Italian of 19 adult German–Italian simultaneous bilinguals, comparing naturalistic and experimental data. The results show no CLI from German, although the conditions for CLI are given. Instead, bilingual adults tend to overuse a structure that is unique to Italian, unlike bilingual children in previous studies. However, they do so only in the experimental data. In order to account for this, I introduce the concept of cross-linguistic overcorrection in contrast to cross-linguistic influence.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Universität Hamburg, Institut für Romanistik, Von-Melle-Park 6, 20149 Hamburg,


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This research was funded by the German Science Foundation as part of SFB 538 in Hamburg. Thanks to Giulia Bianchi, Roberta Colonna Dahlmann, Timm Lehmberg, Cristina Pierantozzi, Antonio Tomasello and all participants for supporting the data collection and analysis. I also wish to thank Merete Anderssen, Anna Cardinaletti, Giuliana Giusti, Marianne Gullberg, Ana Pérez-Leroux, Mihaela Pirvulescu, Yves Roberge, Marit Westergaard, Frank Zenker and three anonymous reviewers for their comments. Special thanks to Joost van de Weijer for his assistance with the statistics.



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Adjective placement in simultaneous bilinguals (German–Italian) and the concept of cross-linguistic overcorrection*



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