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Discourse cohesion in the elicited narratives of early Russian-German sequential bilinguals

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Abstract

This study examines aspects of discourse cohesion in the elicited narratives of early Russian-German sequential bilinguals at age four to six and compares them to the narratives of monolingual Russian-speaking children at the same age as well as to a group of monolingual adults. This examination quantitatively and qualitatively inspects two groups of devices that establish referential and relational cohesion: (anaphoric) pronouns and connectives. The results show that bilinguals of all age groups produce longer utterances and use more word tokens per story in comparison to monolinguals. The younger group of bilinguals demonstrates higher rates of the use of referential and relational cohesive devices. Moreover, in bilingual children the extension of the use of cohesive devices from the local level to the level of more general discourse organization is more pronounced than in monolinguals. This finding is explained as a bilingual advantage over monolinguals reflecting the sensitivity of bilinguals to establishing cohesive ties in discourse. Thus, the results of this study expand evidence showing that advantages of bilinguals over monolinguals in some areas of language and cognitive competence.

References

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