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Vocabulary does not equal language, but neither does morphosyntax


The study of bilingual development has been, and must be, an interdisciplinary endeavor; Carroll (Carroll) presents us with a perspective from within one particular discipline, that of generative linguistics. From this vantage point, she provides us perhaps most importantly with the reminder that language is not a unitary construct, and cautions against extrapolating from findings on the learning of one particular aspect of language, such as vocabulary, to language acquisition more broadly. I wholeheartedly agree (for a similar point, see Paradis & Grüter, 2014). I do not agree, however, with Carroll's implication that such unwarranted extrapolation is characteristic of current research on input and bilingual development. A number of recent studies have looked specifically at the differential relation between input (in a wide sense) and bilingual children's acquisition of different linguistic phenomena. Unsworth (2014), for example, reported different effects of input variation on Dutch–English bilingual children's acquisition of grammatical gender versus indefinite object scrambling.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Theres Grüter, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Department of Second Language Studies, 1890 East-West Road, Moore Hall, rm570, Honolulu, HI 96822, U.S.A.
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Bedore, L.M., Peña, E.D., Summers, C.L., Boerger, K.M., Resendiz, M.D., Greene, K., Bohman, T.M., & Gillam, R.B. (2012). The measure matters: Language dominance profiles across measures in Spanish–English bilingual children. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 15, 616629.
Carroll, S.E. Exposure and input in bilingual development. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition. doi:10.1017/S1366728915000863.
Hoff, E., Core, C., Place, S., Rumiche, R., Señor, M., & Parra, M. (2012). Dual language exposure and early bilingual development. Journal of Child Language, 39, 127.
Meisel, J. M. (2013). Sensitive phases in successive language acquisition: The Critical Period Hypothesis revisited. In Boeckx, C. & Grohmann, K. (Eds.), Handbook of Biolinguistics (pp. 6985). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Paradis, J., & Grüter, T. (2014). Introduction to ‘Input and experience in bilingual development.’ In Grüter, T. & Paradis, J. (Eds.) Input and experience in bilingual development (pp. 114). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Paradis, J., Tremblay, A., & Crago, M. (2014). French-English bilingual children's sensitivity to child-level and language-level factors in morphosyntactic acquisition. In Grüter, T. & Paradis, J. (Eds.) Input and experience in bilingual development (pp. 161180). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Pearson, B.Z., Fernández, S.C., Lewedeg, V., & Oller, D.K. (1997). The relation of input factors to lexical learning by bilingual infants. Applied Psycholinguistics, 18, 4158.
Unsworth, S. (2014). Comparing the role of input in bilingual acquisition across domains. In Grüter, T. & Paradis, J. (Eds.) Input and experience in bilingual development (pp. 181201). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
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Bilingualism: Language and Cognition
  • ISSN: 1366-7289
  • EISSN: 1469-1841
  • URL: /core/journals/bilingualism-language-and-cognition
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