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Title: The later stages of bilingual acquisition : crosslinguistic influence in older English-Greek bilingual children
Author: Argyri, Efrosyni
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2006
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Previous studies on bilingual first language acquisition have shown that even though bilingual children’s language systems develop separately, the possibility of the two languages to have an influence on each other is not excluded. Recent studies have argued that syntax-pragmatics interface structures, which instantiate a surface overlap between the two languages are vulnerable to crosslinguistic influence in bilingual acquisition. Until now, this proposal has been mainly tested with young bilingual children. This thesis explores the possibility of crosslinguistic influence, and its restriction to interface domains, in older bilingual children. We present experimental data from thirty-two English-Greek eight-year-old bilingual children, sixteen Greek-dominant living in Greece and sixteen English-dominant living in the UK, and monolingual control groups. A series of elicited production and acceptability judgement tasks were administered to investigate whether specific syntax-pragmatics interface structures, i.e. the distribution of null and overt subject pronouns and preverbal and postverbal subjects in wide-focus contexts, are more vulnerable to crosslinguistic influence from English to Greek than purely syntactic structures, i.e. the placement of object pronouns in declaratives and the placement of subjects in what- embedded interrogatives. The prediction was that unidirectional crosslinguistic influence might occur from English to Greek in both bilingual groups and that the syntax-pragmatics interface structures would be found more vulnerable to crosslinguistic influence than the purely syntactic structures. The findings show that overt subjects pronouns were not subject to crosslinguistic effects, while the placement of subjects both in wide-focus contexts (i.e. a syntax-pragmatics interface structure) and in what-embedded interrogatives (i.e. a purely syntactic structure) was vulnerable to crosslinguistic influence in the predicted direction, i.e. from English to Greek, but only in the English-dominant bilinguals. These data suggest that current hypotheses on the conditions on crosslinguistic influence in bilingual grammars need to be revised.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available