11. Balanced bilingual children with two weak languages: A French/German case study

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Research on bilingual first language acquisition has reported on bilingual children who develop the two languages at an equal pace and like monolingual children. Recent research also includes children with a dominant/weak language; for these children Müller & Kupisch (2003) have shown that the weak language develops in a qualitatively similar way to the languages in balanced bilinguals or the strong/dominant language in unbalanced bilinguals, the difference being only quantitative in nature. The weak language exhibits a delay in the development of grammatical phenomena. The present study investigates a bilingual German/French child with two weak languages. The general result is that in a child with two weak languages delay effects can be observed to the same extent as in normally developing bilingual children. However, contrary to what other researchers have found in normally developing bilingual children, acceleration effects are absent in a child with two weak languages. Both findings are obtained on the basis of an age-matched and an MLU-matched comparison of three bilingual children. The grammatical domains investigated are determiner omissions and the realization of subjects and objects.


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