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The regression hypothesis as a framework for first language attrition



In an attempt to explain first language attrition in emigrant populations, this paper investigates the explanatory power of a framework that has – until now – received little attention: the regression hypothesis (Jakobson, 1941). This hypothesis predicts that the order of attrition is the reverse of the order of acquisition. The regression hypothesis was tested in relation to the loss of morphology and syntax in Dutch immigrants in Anglophone Canada. Evidence in favor of regression was found, but mainly in the morphological domain. Syntax, on the other hand, was mostly characterized by L2 influences from English. As it is problematic to treat regression as a theory in its own right, these findings are then explained in the light of both generative and usage-based approaches, as well as the more recent Dynamic Systems Theory.


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The regression hypothesis as a framework for first language attrition



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