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Referential expressions in bilingual acquisition

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Abstract

Just like monolingual children, bilingual children need to carve up the referential space to understand and produce discourse-appropriate referential expressions. In the case of bilinguals, this demanding task additionally requires language-specific form-function mappings that may be structurally similar or different in their two languages. Cases of partial form-function overlap across languages, especially with respect to third person pronouns, have been the focus of much scrutiny in connection with the issue of cross-linguistic influence. In this chapter we review naturalistic and experimental evidence showing how the degree of structural overlap across two languages, the degree of variability in the target language(s), and the amount of input that is necessary to home in on the target grammar(s) constrain the comprehension and production of referential expressions in bilingual acquisition.

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