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Bilingual first language acquisition and the mechanisms of substrate influence. Stephen Matthews, University of Hong Kong & Virginia Yip, Chinese University of Hong Kong. 1. Theoretical background .
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University of Hong Kong
Chinese University of Hong Kong
“Linguists who study language contact often seek to describe changes at the level of linguistics systems in isolation and abstraction from speakers. Sometimes they tend to treat the outcome of bilingual interaction in static rather than dynamic terms, and lose sight of the fact that the bilingual individual is the ultimate locus of language contact” (Romaine 1996: 573, our emphasis)
2. Code alternation
3. Passive familiarity
4. ‘Negotiation’ (approximation)
5. Second language acquisition strategies (interference/transfer)
6. Bilingual first language acquisition
7. Deliberate decision (language planning/engineering)
bi-/multilingualism, any combination of these factors
could be operating.
(1) live lire (Anouk, 2;05;20)
(2) Anouk riz manger (Anouk, 2;05;20)
Anouk rice eat-INFIN
(3) You go to the what? (Timmy, 2;05)
(4) Daddy, you writing what? (Sophie, 3;5)
MLUw between age 2;01 – 2;08.
(5) Input sentence: I want to eat
English (target) analysis: I want to eat (something)
Chinese-based analysis: [TOPICi] I want to eat [xi]
(= I want to eat this/that)
-> This ambiguity allows the child to hypothesize that English allows null objects, like Cantonese
= both languages acquired simultaneously from birth (De Houwer 1990, 1995)
(i) Separate development (De Houwer 1990)
(ii) Interactive development (Döpke 2000,
Yip & Matthews 2000, among others)
(6) You get, I eat… (Timmy, 2;02;03)
[father takes chocolates off shelf]
(7) Daddy: Timmy, do you want the rest of this?
Timmy: I don’t want. (2;07;07)
(8) Don’t break! [cautioning the adult not to
break a toy cup] (Sophie, 3;06;06)
“It is not the case that ‘errors’ or innovations in a child’s grammar survive into adulthood. Instead, children’s errors which presumably manifest a grammar (or lexicon) different from that of their parents tend to disappear in a later phase of language acquisition…” (Croft 2000: 47)
or of schooling and literacy?
1. Preemption: e.g. wh-movement largely replaces wh-in situ between age 3-4
2. Persistence: e.g. null objects persist to age 7 and beyond (Yip & Matthews 2000)
(9) Alicia: I want to put. [bringing jar of face cream]
Sophie: You want to put on your face? (6;11;10)
Alicia: Yah. (2;08;10)
These differential outcomes (preemption vs. persistence) are determined in part by considerations of learnability,
e.g. input ambiguity favours null objects (Yip & Matthews 2003)
1. Replacement: transfer-based structure(s) ironed out by adult community
2. Persistence: transfer-based structure persists as innovation in adult usage
(10) She wake already. (Sophie 2;06)
(11) He go already… he go already the monster (Sophie 2;10;21)
(12) Keoi seng-zo laa (adult Cantonese)
S/he wake-PFV PRT
‘She’s woken up’
(13) I wash my hand already
‘I have washed/washed my hand’
(14) The tongue red already
‘The tongue has turned/turned red/
*The tongue was red’
“Despite the syntactic difference, V-le and S-le in Chinese and S already in Singapore English, the substrate source of already is unmistakable”. (Bao 2002: 9)
(15) Here is give Timmy scratch.
(points to scratched leg) (Sophie, 3;06)
(16) Daddy, I already give the mosquito to bite (shows bite on tummy) (Sophie, 3;09)
(20) Sophie: I also want.
Father: What do you want?
Sophie: Timmy said that one. (3;08;21)
[the child has been asking for a piggy-bank]
(21) Ngo jiu Timmy gong go go (adult Cantonese)
I want Timmy talk that CL
‘I want what Timmy was talking about’
(22) They grow one very sweet.
‘The fruit that they grow is very sweet.’
(23) Don't have car one, I don't want.
‘I don't want [a man] who does not own a car.’
(17) John give his boss scold
(18) John bei loubaan laau (adult Cantonese)
John give boss scold
‘John is scolded by his boss’
SCE: (almost) a creole? (Ho & Platt 1993, Gupta 1994, Bao 2002)
- no longer an issue if ‘creole’ is not seen as a unique structural type (cf. e.g. Corne 1999, DeGraff 2001, Mufwene 2001)
(i) English-medium schools
(ii) Racially mixed districts (in which most of these schools were located) including Eurasians, Jews, Armenians and Straits Chinese
ref. nos. HKU336/94H,CUHK 4002/97H, CUHK4014/02H and CUHK Direct Grant 01/02