The nature of the initial state of child L2 grammar

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This chapter explores the rarely documented acquisition of clitics in bilingual children with L1 Albanian, a language with clitics, while they are learning English, a language without clitics. The first study reported here uses the case study methodology, while the second study uses the elicited production methodology. The case study brings forth new evidence of a preverbal object clitic stage in English L2 learning even though English does not have preverbal object clitics. The follow-up elicitation production study with 6 children, including the one from the case study, shows that the initially reported clitic stage disappears after another month of exposure, with the initial state grammar already having restructured to the properties of the L2. These findings are discussed in relation to the theories on the initial state of grammar in L2, as well as the theories on L1 transfer in the context of their analysis of object clitics.


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