The influence of phonological factors on the expression of finiteness by children learning Dutch as their first and second language

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Previous research has indicated that children learning a first language (L1) and children learning a second language (L2) make errors with finiteness marking, even when they master the syntactic and morphological properties of finiteness marking in the target language. This study investigates whether such residual errors with finiteness marking are caused by phonological properties of the verb form. Three groups participated in the study: a Turkish L1 – Dutch L2 group (mean age = 7), an age-matched Dutch L1 group, and a younger Dutch L1 group (mean age = 5) that matched the L2 group on Dutch proficiency. All children took part in an elicited production task and a non-word repetition task. The results confirm the role of phonological properties of verb forms, in particular composition of the coda cluster. Accuracy was high across all groups, but the L2 children and age-matched L1 children performed slightly better than the younger L1 children. This observation suggests that L2 children can make use of L1 experience in the domain of verb inflection.


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