Cross-linguistic Influences in Bilingual First Language Acquisition

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Although Catalan is the language of his environment, he only uses this language in an academic setting and not in his daily life. Both participants were interviewed individually on two separate occasions.

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The interviews were semi-structured and took place in an informal environment. The subjects also completed a background questionnaire regarding their language learning history, which included questions regarding the knowledge and use of each of the languages known by the two participants, the onset age and the type of exposure to each language. It requested details concerning the number of years that they had been exposed to each language, both in formal and informal settings, as well as their current use of the languages.

The questionnaires were completed some days before the interviews took place. The questionnaire was the first activity that the participants were involved in. It was written in Catalan so both participants decided to use this language o answer the questions. There was no time limit for the completion of the questionnaire and they were asked to report on their experience of second and foreign language acquisition.

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Some days later, the semi-structured interviews began. Participants were interviewed twice. The first interview was held in English and the subjects were asked to talk about the last film that they had seen, movies and cinema in general. One week later, they were interviewed again, but this time the interview was in Catalan and they were asked to explain what they had done during that day, leading to an explanation of their interests and current occupations. Therefore, both conversations dealt with everyday topics, enabling the comparison of the two productions.

The interlocutor was a native speaker of Catalan and Spanish and a fluent speaker of English. The interview was consciously designed to instigate spontaneous production from the subjects; thus, the conversations took different directions depending on the subjects' interests. Each conversation lasted between 15 and 20 minutes. The interviews were audio-taped and transcribed and all instances of CLI at the lexical and syntactic level were identified and subsequently analysed.

Analysis consisted of identifying instances of transfer and determining their language of origin. In order to be able to compare the four transcriptions in a consistent way, the first words of each transcription were selected for analysis. First of all, the total number of errors in the four transcriptions were identified and subsequently classified according to the type of error: transfer and developmental errors. Not only the L1 Spanish , but also the other foreign languages known by the learners were taken into account. The transferred forms were then further classified into instances of lexical transfer and syntactic transfer.

Other types of CLI were identified, such as morphological or pragmatic transfer, but they were classified in the 'other types of transfer' category. Words intentionally and consciously borrowed from the L1 have also been included in this group. Some examples of what has been considered as lexical transfer can be observed in the following sentences, which are taken from the conversations with the two subjects:.

Sentences 1 and 2 are examples of borrowing, taken from the oral production in Catalan of one of the subjects. In the former, the source language of the borrowing is French whereas in the latter it is Spanish. Example 3 is an instance of false friend in which the English word 'particular' is used with the Spanish meaning. Sentences 4 and 5 are examples of calque, since the expressions used both in Catalan and English are literal translations from the L1 Spanish 4. Finally, 6 is an example of lexical invention, since the learner creates a non-existing word in the target language by adapting an L1 word rehacer to the conventions of the L3.

On the other hand, each entire syntactic structure or idiomatic expression that was literally translated into the target language was considered syntactic transfer. The following examples illustrate this type of transfer:.

In this example, the preposition 'de'and the article 'una'need to be contracted 'd'una'. However, the learner prefers to use the form in his mother tongue. Sentences 8 and 9 are taken from the subjects' oral production in English and are also examples of L1 transfer. The former is an instance of subject elision whereas the latter illustrates transfer of word order. Example 10 is also an instance of transfer of word order, but in this case, it is taken from the oral Catalan data.

The results of the present case study provide tentative answers to the three research questions stated above. Regarding the first hypothesis, that the L1 has an important role in L2 and L3 production and is the main source of transfer, the analysis revealed that Spanish, the participants'L1, is by far the main source of influence on English and Catalan oral production. As can be observed in the results in tables 3 and 4 , both subjects mostly produce Spanish-based words and expressions when word transfer from one language to the other occurs.

The other languages known by the speaker do not have any influence in L2 and L3 production. The situation is the same for S2 when the target language is English. These results confirm those of prior studies that have focused on the importance of the mother tongue. However, it should also be noted that this high percentage of L1 transfer may be due to language distance in the case of Catalan production. The participants may perceive Catalan as being typologically close to their L1, Spanish, and thus, transfer from this language in the majority of cases.

It is reasonable to predict that if the two languages were not so close, the percentage of L1 transfer would considerably decrease.

Crosslinguistic Influence in Bilingual First language Acquisition. - UCL Discovery

The case of English is quite different. English is the only non-Romance language known by S1; thus, it is the only Germanic language from which he could transfer. Therefore, his L1 is chosen as the source language for transfer. S2, on the other hand, has some knowledge of another Germanic language. Nevertheless, his level of proficiency is not high enough to be able to transfer from this language. With respect to the second research question, which made reference to the main factors that can be associated with transfer, it has been demonstrated that transfer appears more extensively at lower levels.

Given that in this research study transfer from the L1 is virtually the only transfer that takes place, it can also be stated that L1 influence has a tendency to decrease as target language proficiency increases. Both subjects have a lower level in Catalan than in English. Thus, they transfer more when they speak in the former language. The results also suggest that in Catalan production the number of instances of CLI is always higher than the number of developmental errors. On the other hand, in English production this is reversed; that is to say, the number of developmental errors surpasses instances of CLI.

This might be due to language distance. It is easier to transfer from a language that is typologically closer to the target language, and developmental errors are more likely to occur when the vocabulary and structures in the target language are very different from those in the L1. In this situation, positive transfer from the L1 Spanish to the L3 Catalan takes place. As demonstrated in previous research Cenoz, , linguistic distance is a stronger predictor of CLI than L2 status. Thus, the language that most influenced Catalan production was the language that is typologically closer to it, corresponding to the L1 in this study.

It should be noted that linguistic distance only plays an important role when the learner has a high proficiency in the source language. Thus, oral production in English was not influenced by German the language most related to English , since proficiency in German was not high enough for transfer to occur. It can be concluded that language distance goes hand in hand with source language proficiency in this study. Although S1 knows another language closely related to Catalan, i.

French, his knowledge in this language is not high enough. Furthermore, it could be the case that S1 perceived Spanish as being closer to Catalan than French. This might also explain why S2 transfers more extensively from Spanish than from French in Catalan production. It could also be explained in terms of frequency of use and recency, since French is not very often used by S1 and has not been used recently.

The role that other foreign languages have in CLI has already been discussed; the influence of these languages is not as significant as that of the L1 in this study. However, since some French influence occurred in the Catalan oral production of one of the participants, it is worth mentioning. As hypothesized, influence from non-native languages only occurs when three conditions are present. Firstly, the learner's proficiency must be high; secondly, the languages need to be closely related; and finally, the subject needs to have been recently exposed to the non-native language.

This is the case of S2. He is competent in French, which like Catalan is a Romance language. Furthermore, S2 has been recently exposed to French in a naturalistic context, having spent four months in France.

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In contrast, since no instances of French influence have been found in the Catalan and English production of the learner with an intermediate level of French proficiency, and who has had no natural exposure to French, it is reasonable that this language had no significant influence on his other foreign languages. Tremblay has already pointed out that L2 exposure is fundamental for transfer from the L2 to occur. The only instance of English influence in Catalan production has not been considered in this study as the data is insufficient to be taken into account.

The third hypothesis has also been proved: syntactic transfer is exclusively L1-based, and lexical transfer can occur from a non-native language only when proficiency in the non-native language is high, the languages are close and the subject has been recently exposed to the language. This result contradicts some prior findings Williams and Hammarberg, which suggest that transfer in grammar from non-native languages can occur if exposure and proficiency are high.

As can be observed in tables 5 and 6 , syntactic transfer is exclusively L1-based in both participants in Catalan and English production. On the other hand, some transfer from other languages known by the subjects can occur in instances of lexical transfer. S1 only transferred from his L1, but S2 transferred words from non-native languages, mainly from French, on 8 occasions. Moreover, the number of transfer instances from French surpasses transfer from Spanish.

This does not occur in the production of S1 because the three necessary conditions allowing transfer from an L2 are not present. Tables 7 and 8 show the percentages of lexical and syntactic transfer. As can be observed in these tables, lexical transfer is higher than syntactic transfer in Catalan oral production the language that is typologically closer to Spanish in both participants. In English, on the other hand, syntactic transfer is higher than lexical transfer.

It seems that it is easier to transfer words when the vocabulary in both the L1 and the target language is similar. If the vocabulary in the target language does not look like that of the L1, the speaker seems to be more reluctant to transfer from his mother tongue. Regarding syntactic transfer, it appears that both participants transfer from their L1 in both Catalan and English oral production.

However, since Catalan is much closer to Spanish than English, positive transfer takes place in oral production in this language. In English oral production the type of transfer that takes place is negative, producing more non-target forms.

Cross-linguistic Influences in Multilingual Language Acquisition

Overall, this study confirms findings from previous L3 research. First, it has shown that the L1 plays an important role in CLI in multilingual learners. London: 95— Dunn L. Peabody picture vocabulary test. Minneapolis MN. On sources of errors in foreign language learning. Ellis R. Implicit and explicit learning, knowledge, and instruction. Explicit and implicit knowledge in second language learning, testing and teaching. Bristol UK : 3— Falhasiri M. Flores C. Foroodi-Nejad F.

Crosslinguistic transfer in the acquisition of compound words in Persian-English bilinguals. Francis N. Imbalances in bilingual development: A key to understanding the faculty of language. Grosjean F. The Complementarity Principle and its impact on processing, acquisition, and dominance. Language dominance in bilinguals: Issues of measurement and operationalization.

Cambridge MA. Haman E. Hartlep K. The effect of self-reference on learning and retention. Hulk A. Non-selective access and activation in child bilingualism: The syntax. Amsterdam: 75— Bilingual first language acquisition at the interface between syntax and pragmatics.

Original Research ARTICLE

James C. Errors in language learning and use: Exploring error analysis. New York.

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  4. Jarvis S. Crosslinguistic influence in language and cognition. Kellerman E. Kupisch J. Determiners in bilingual German-Italian children: What they tell us about the relation between language influence and language dominance. Lanza E. Language mixing in infant bilingualism: A sociolinguistic perspective. LeBlanc R. Twenty-five years of second language teaching at the University of Ottawa. Ottawa: 69— Lee E. Citations Publications citing this paper.

    Object drop in the L1 acquisition of Dutch Kathryn Thrift. Crosslinguistic influence at the syntax—pragmatics interface: Subjects and objects in English—Italian bilingual and monolingual acquisition Ludovica Serratrice , Antonella Sorace , Sandra Paoli. Subject realization and crosslinguistic interference in the bilingual acquisition of Spanish and English: what is the role of the input? References Publications referenced by this paper. Second language acquisition and the competition model Brian MacWhinney.

    The case of subject and object omissions in French and German.

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    Cross-linguistic Influences in Bilingual First Language Acquisition Cross-linguistic Influences in Bilingual First Language Acquisition
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