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Heritage language exposure impacts voice onset time of Dutch–German simultaneous bilingual preschoolers

  • ANTJE STOEHR (a1) (a2), TITIA BENDERS (a3) (a4), JANET G. VAN HELL (a5) and PAULA FIKKERT (a1)

Abstract

This study assesses the effects of age and language exposure on VOT production in 29 simultaneous bilingual children aged 3;7 to 5;11 who speak German as a heritage language in the Netherlands. Dutch and German have a binary voicing contrast, but the contrast is implemented with different VOT values in the two languages. The results suggest that bilingual children produce ‘voiced’ plosives similarly in their two languages, and these productions are not monolingual-like in either language. Bidirectional cross-linguistic influence between Dutch and German can explain these results. Yet, the bilinguals seemingly have two autonomous categories for Dutch and German ‘voiceless’ plosives. In German, the bilinguals’ aspiration is not monolingual-like, but bilinguals with more heritage language exposure produce more target-like aspiration. Importantly, the amount of exposure to German has no effect on the majority language's ‘voiceless’ category. This implies that more heritage language exposure is associated with more language-specific voicing systems.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Antje Stoehr, Centre for Language Studies, Radboud University, PO Box 9103, 6500 HD Nijmegen, The Netherlands. a.stohr@let.ru.nl

Footnotes

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Supplementary material can be found online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1366728917000116

*We thank Arjan Cuppen, Lottie Gort, Eva Koch, Jana Loh and Rianne Vlaar for their help collecting the data and Franziska Klier, Ann-Katrin Ohlerth and Natascha Roos for their help annotating the data. We are also grateful to three anonymous reviewers for insightful comments and suggestions on an earlier version of this paper.

Footnotes

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