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Syntactic Acquisition in Bilingual Children: Autonomous or Interdependent?

  • Johanne Paradis (a1) and Fred Genesee (a1)

Abstract

Recent research on pragmatic and syntactic development in bilingual 2-year-olds has shown that these children have differentiated language systems. However, it remains to be shown whether their grammars develop autonomously or interdependently from 2 years onward. The present study investigates the potential interference between the grammars of French-English bilingual children, aged 2–3 years. We examined their acquisition of functional categories, specifically the properties of INFL (finiteness and agreement) and negation, as these grammatical properties differ in both adult French and English and child French and English. Our results indicate that the bilingual children show no evidence of transfer, acceleration, or delay in acquisition, and support the hypothesis that their grammars are acquired autonomously. Some implications of these findings for the debate on continuity in the emergence of functional categories are discussed.

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Syntactic Acquisition in Bilingual Children: Autonomous or Interdependent?

  • Johanne Paradis (a1) and Fred Genesee (a1)

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