<i>Wh</i>-questions in Dutch

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This study investigates cross-linguistic influence in Dutch <i>wh</i>-questions in bilingual Dutch-French and trilingual Dutch-French-Italian acquisition. Five and seven year-old bilingual and trilingual children as well as monolingual children and adult controls (N = 49) participated in an elicited production task. In addition to target-like <i>wh</i>-fronted questions with subject-verb inversion, the majority of responses, the multilingual children produced two qualitatively different structures: <i>wh</i>-in-situ questions and <i>wh</i>-fronted questions without inversion. These structures are argued to result from transfer from French, and in the case of non-inversion with the <i>wh</i>-word <i>why</i> in the trilingual group from transfer from Italian. It is proposed that a theory of transfer based on derivational complexity can best account for these data.


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