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The acquisition and development of language by bilingual children*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 September 2008

Virginia Volterra
Institute of Psychology, C.N.R., Rome, and University of Rome
Traute Taeschner
Institute of Psychology, C.N.R., Rome, and University of Rome


Analysing the gradual learning process through which a child becomes bilingual from early infancy, three stages can be distinguished: (1) the child has one lexical system which includes words from both languages; (2) the child distinguishes two different lexicons but applies the same syntactic rules to both languages; (3) the child has two linguistic codes, differentiated both in lexicon and in syntax, but each language is exclusively associated with the person using that language. Only at the end of this stage, when the tendency to categorize people in terms of their language decreases, can one say that a child is truly bilingual.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1978

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Authors' address Istituto di Psicologia, Via dei Monti Tiburtini 509, Rome.



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