7. On the "vulnerability" of the left periphery in French/German balanced bilingual language acquisition

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In this chapter I investigate the question of whether there is evidence for crosslinguistic influence in German/French bilingual first language acquisition, using data from two children of the DuFDE-corpus (see Köppe 1994), Annika and Pierre. The theoretical framework on which my analysis is based is the Principles and Parameters approach as in Chomsky (1986).Recently Platzack (2001) has proposed that, in contrast to the IP, the CP, i.e., the left periphery of the clause, is vulnerable. He states that the structure of the left periphery of one language might influence the structure of the other language. Since German and French differ clearly as far as the left periphery is concerned, a German/French bilingual L1 corpus offers an excellent opportunity to verify the “vulnerability of the left periphery” hypothesis.<br />German is analyzed as a verb-second (V2) language (den Besten 1977, Platzack 1983) which means that the finite verb always occupies the second position in main clauses via movement to C0, whereas in French, a fronted object or an adverb is adjoined to the IP and therefore results in a V3-structure. <br />I will show that the children nearly always use target-like V2-constructions in German and that the general I-to-C-movement rule of German is not transferred to French. Nevertheless, in Annika’s data, several V2-constructions are attested in French with the adverbs ‘là’ and ‘ici’ and the object pronoun ‘ça’ in the left periphery. But this kind of lexically–driven V2-structure in French does not support the “vulnerability of the left periphery” hypothesis. In contrast, I will argue that only some lexical items can trigger V2-constructions.


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