Late language acquisition and identity construction

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Aacquisition of the grammatical gender of the Dutch definite common determiner <i>de</i> and neuter <i>het</i> is a long-lasting process since monolingual children do not acquire a target grammar with respect to the use of <i>het</i> until the age of six. Before that age, they overuse <i>de</i>. Bilingual child acquirers from ethnic minority communities show an overuse of <i>de</i> to a much higher extent than their monolingual controls. We will explore the relation between language acquisition and language variation. It is argued that when the acquisition process of a grammatical phenomenon takes too long, it will become vulnerable in the sense that language external and internal factors start to interfere with this process and the emerging variation will remain for some acquirers. The hypothesis is put forward that in that case a grammatical phenomenon is very eligible to be used in identity construction.


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