Annual Review of Language Acquisition: Volume 3 (2003)
  • ISSN 1568-1467
  • E-ISSN: 1569-965X
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This study concerns the simultaneous acquisition of conditional constructions in Chinese-English bilingual preschool children in Singapore. Cross-sectional data are obtained from subjects ranging from 2;10 to 6;06. The target languages are Singapore Colloquial English (SCE) and Singapore Colloquial Mandarin (SCM), both of which are contact varieties that are representative of the Low varieties in a diglossic situation. The bilingual acquisition of structural features of conditionals is investigated by adopting the Head-marking and Dependent-marking typological framework (Nichols 1986). Two elicited imitation experiments were conducted, with Experiment 1 aimed at examining if the structural convergence between SCE and SCM that is evident at a societal level is also represented in the developing linguistic repertoires of the bilingual preschool children. Experiment 2 is a follow-up study designed to investigate if convergence between the two languages is also evident at an individual level. Results obtained in Experiment 1 suggest that convergence between the two developing linguistic systems is indeed apparent. Also evident is the influence of Chinese on SCE, while the influence of English on SCM is less apparent. At the individual level, however, a general lack of convergence between the two developing grammars within a single subject is observed in Experiment 2: the marking preferences for SCE and SCM conditionals tend not to coincide for a particular subject, suggesting that the two languages are represented as distinct grammatical systems for the bilingual children.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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