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Assessing the role of current and cumulative exposure in simultaneous bilingual acquisition: The case of Dutch gender*



This paper investigates the role of amount of current and cumulative exposure in bilingual development and ultimate attainment by exploring the extent to which simultaneous bilingual children's knowledge of grammatical gender is affected by current and previous amount of exposure, including in the early years. Elicited production and grammaticality judgement data collected from 136 English–Dutch-speaking bilingual children aged between three and 17 years are used to examine the lexical and grammatical aspects of Dutch gender, viz. definite determiners and adjectival inflection. It is argued that the results are more consistent with a rule-based than a piecemeal approach to acquisition (Blom, Polišenskà & Weerman, 2008a; Gathercole & Thomas, 2005, 2009), and that non-target performance on the production task can be explained by the Missing Surface Inflection Hypothesis (Haznedar & Schwartz, 1997; Prévost & White, 2000; Weerman, Duijnmeijer & Orgassa, 2011).


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Address for correspondence: Department of Modern Languages/Utrecht Institute of Linguistics, Trans 10, 3512JK Utrecht, The


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This research was supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research with a VENI Innovational Research Incentives Scheme award to the author and an international programme award to Leonie Cornips. I wish to thank the participants and research assistants, as well as Leonie Cornips, Aafke Hulk, Antonella Sorace and Ianthi Tsimpli for discussion of some of the issues in this paper, Enlli Môn Thomas for comments on an earlier version of this paper, and Harvard Language and Cognition group for feedback on a presentation version. I also thank three anonymous reviewers for their critical and constructive comments.



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