Chapter 13. The development of person-number verbal morphology in different types of learners

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In this chapter, the acquisition of French subject-verb agreement (in form of verbal inflections) in different types of learners is discussed. Different studies, essentially case studies on corpora of spontaneous spoken vs written adult L2 French (L1 Swedish), and on simultaneous bilingual Swedish-French children, are presented and compared. The results suggest that the 3rd person plural (3p pl) marking in written adult L2 French is acquired relatively earlier than the corresponding marking in spoken adult L2 French. It is argued that this is related to the frequency and regularity of the written 3p pl inflection (always -nt) in contrast to the irregular and different markings in spoken French (zero marking or different consonants). It is further argued that the same markings in the bilingual children (2L1) are not quite as early and easily acquired as in French monolinguals (L1) of corresponding age and linguistic development. This may also be related (differently from agreement in form of subject clitics) to the frequency of the 3p pl inflection in the spoken input of these children, since their French input is reduced and 3p pl is not marked in Swedish.


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