Volume 7, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1879-9264
  • E-ISSN: 1879-9272
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


This paper reports on a study investigating restrictions on definiteness (the Definiteness Effect) in existential constructions in the two languages of Turkish heritage speakers in Germany. Turkish and German differ in how the Definiteness Effect plays out. Definite expressions in German may not occur in affirmative or negative existentials, whereas in Turkish the restriction applies only to affirmative existentials. Participants were adults and fell into two groups: simultaneous bilinguals (2L1) who acquired German before age 3 and early sequential bilinguals (2L1) who acquired German after age 4; there were also monolingual controls. The tasks involved acceptability judgments. Subjects were presented with contexts, each followed by a sentence to be judged, including grammatical and ungrammatical existentials. Results show that the bilinguals, regardless of age of acquisition, make judgments appropriate for each language. They reject definite expressions in negative existentials in German and accept them in Turkish, suggesting distinct grammars.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Bley-Vroman, R.
    (1983) The comparative fallacy in interlanguage studies: the case of systematicity. Language Learning, 33, 1–17. doi: 10.1111/j.1467‑1770.1983.tb00983.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-1770.1983.tb00983.x [Google Scholar]
  2. Chilla, S. , & Babur, E.
    (2010) Specific Language Impairment in Turkish-German successive bilingual children: Aspects of assessment and outcome. In S. Topbaş , & M. Yavaş (Eds.), Communication disorders in Turkish in monolingual and multilingual settings (pp.352–368). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Czinglar, C.
    (2002) Decomposing existence: Evidence from Germanic. In W. Abraham , & C. J.-W. Zwart (Eds.) (2002), Issues in Formal German(ic) Typology (pp.245–254). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/la.45.06czi
    https://doi.org/10.1075/la.45.06czi [Google Scholar]
  4. Cook, V.
    (1997) Monolingual bias in second language acquisition research. Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses, 34, 35–50.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. De Houwer, A.
    (1990) The acquisition of two languages from birth. A case study. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511519789
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519789 [Google Scholar]
  6. Eisenbeiss, S.
    (2000) The Acquisition of the DP in German. In L. Rizzi , & M.-A. Friedemann (Eds.), Acquisition of Syntax. Issues in Developmental Linguistic (pp.27–62). London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Enç, M.
    (1991) The semantics of specificity. Linguistic Inquiry, 22, 1–25.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Fürstenau, S. , Gogolin, I. & Yağmur, K.
    (Eds) (2003) Mehrsprachigkeit in Hamburg. Ergebnisse einer Sprachstanderhebung an den Grundschulen. Münster: Waxmann.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Garcia-Mayo, M. , & Hawkins, R
    (Eds) (2009) Second language acquisition of articles: Empirical findings and theoretical implications. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/lald.49
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lald.49 [Google Scholar]
  10. Genesee, F.
    1989 Early bilingual development: One language or two?Journal of Child Language, 16, 161–179. doi: 10.1017/S0305000900013490
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0305000900013490 [Google Scholar]
  11. Goad, H. & White, L.
    (2004) Ultimate attainment of L2 inflection: effects of L1 prosodic structure. In S. Foster-Cohen , M. Sharwood Smith , A. Sorace , & M. Ota (Eds.), Eurosla YearbookVol4 (pp.119–145). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. (2009) Prosodic transfer and determiners in Turkish-English interlanguage. In N. Snape , Y-k. I. Leung , & M. Sharwood Smith (Eds.), Representational deficits in L2 acquisition (pp.1–26). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/lald.47.04goa
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lald.47.04goa [Google Scholar]
  13. Ionin, T. , Ko, H. , & Wexler, K.
    (2004) Article semantics in L2 acquisition: The role of specificity. Language Acquisition, 12, 3–69. doi: 10.1207/s15327817la1201_2
    https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327817la1201_2 [Google Scholar]
  14. Kornfilt, J.
    (1984) Case marking, agreement and empty categories in Turkish. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. (1997) Turkish. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Kupisch, T.
    (2012) Generic subjects in the Italian of early German-Italian bilinguals and German learners of Italian as a second language. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 15 (4), 736–756. doi: 10.1017/S1366728911000691
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728911000691 [Google Scholar]
  17. Lardiere, D.
    (2000) Mapping features to forms in second language acquisition. In J. Archibald (Ed.), Second language acquisition and linguistic theory (pp.102–129). Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. (2004) Knowledge of definiteness despite variable article omission in second language acquisition. In A. Brugos , L. Micciulla , & C. E. Smith (Eds.), Proceedings of the 28th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development. (pp.328–339). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Lyons, C.
    (1999) Definiteness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511605789
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511605789 [Google Scholar]
  20. Meisel, J. M.
    (1986) Word order and case marking in early child language. Evidence from the simultaneous acquisition of two first languages: French and German. Linguistics, 24, 123–183. doi: 10.1515/ling.1986.24.1.123
    https://doi.org/10.1515/ling.1986.24.1.123 [Google Scholar]
  21. Meisel, J.M.
    (2007) Mehrsprachigkeit in der frühen Kindheit: Zur Rolle des Alters bei Erwerbsbeginn. In T. Anstatt (Ed.), Mehrsprachigkeit bei Kindern und Erwachsenen: Erwerb, Formen, Förderung (pp.93–113), Tübingen: Attempto.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. (2009) Second language acquisition in early childhood. Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft, 28(1), 5–34.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. (2011) First and second language acquisition: Parallels and differences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511862694
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511862694 [Google Scholar]
  24. Milsark, G.L.
    (1977) Toward an explanation of certain peculiarities of the existential construction in English. Linguistic Analysis, 3, 1–29.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Montrul, S.
    (2008) Incomplete acquisition on bilingualism: Re-examining the age-factor. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/sibil.39
    https://doi.org/10.1075/sibil.39 [Google Scholar]
  26. (2011) Multiple interfaces and incomplete acquisition. Lingua, 121(4), 591–604. doi: 10.1016/j.lingua.2010.05.006
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2010.05.006 [Google Scholar]
  27. Montrul, S. & Ionin, T.
    (2010) Transfer effects in the interpretation of definite articles by Spanish heritage speakers. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 13 (4), 449–473. doi: 10.1017/S1366728910000040
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728910000040 [Google Scholar]
  28. Müller, N. & Hulk, A.
    (2001) Crosslinguistic influence in bilingual language acquisition: Italian and French as recipient languages. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 4, 1–22. doi: 10.1017/S1366728901000116
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728901000116 [Google Scholar]
  29. Özçelik, Ö.
    (2011) Representation and acquisition of stress: the case of Turkish. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. McGill University.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Öztürk, B.
    (2005) Case, referentiality and phrase structure. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/la.77
    https://doi.org/10.1075/la.77 [Google Scholar]
  31. Pascual y Cabo, D. , & Rothman, J.
    (2012) The (il)logical problem of heritage speaker bilingualism and incomplete acquisition. Applied Linguistics, 33(4), 450–455. doi: 10.1093/applin/ams037
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/ams037 [Google Scholar]
  32. Paradis, J. & Genesee, F.
    (1996) Syntactic acquisition in bilingual children: autonomous or interdependent. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 18, 1–25. doi: 10.1017/S0272263100014662
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263100014662 [Google Scholar]
  33. Pfaff, C. W.
    (1992) The issue of grammaticalization in early German second language acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 14, 273–296. doi: 10.1017/S0272263100011128
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263100011128 [Google Scholar]
  34. Polinsky, M.
    (1997) American Russian: Language loss meets language acquisition. In E. Wayles Browne , N. Dornisch , N. Kondrashowva , & D. Ze (Eds.), Annual Workshop on Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics: The Cornell Meeting (1995) (pp.370–406). Ann Arbor, MI: Michigan Slavic Publishers.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Putnam, M. , & Sánchez, L.
    (2013) What’s so incomplete about incomplete acquisition? A prolegomenon to modeling heritage language grammars. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 3(4), 478–508. doi: 10.1075/lab.3.4.04put
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lab.3.4.04put [Google Scholar]
  36. Prévost, P. , & White, L.
    (2000) Missing surface inflection or impairment in second language acquisition? Evidence from tense and agreement. Second Language Research, 16, 103–133. doi: 10.1191/026765800677556046
    https://doi.org/10.1191/026765800677556046 [Google Scholar]
  37. Rothman, J.
    (2009) Understanding the Nature of Early Bilingualism: Romance Languages as Heritage Languages. International Journal of Bilingualism, 13, 155–163. doi: 10.1177/1367006909339814
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1367006909339814 [Google Scholar]
  38. Rothweiler, M.
    (2006) The acquisition of V2 and subordinate clauses in early successive acquisition of German. In C. Lleó (Ed.). Interfaces in Multilingualism: Acquisition, Representation and Processing (pp.91–113). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/hsm.4.05rot
    https://doi.org/10.1075/hsm.4.05rot [Google Scholar]
  39. (2007) Bilingualer Spracherwerb und Zweitspracherwerb. In M. Steinbach (Ed.), Schnittstellen der germanistischen Linguistik (pp.103–135). Stuttgart/Weimar: Metzler.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Schönenberger, M.
    (2011) Are Difficulties with the Prosodic Representation the Origin of Prolonged Article Omission?In J. Herschensohn , & D. Tanner (Eds.), Proceedings of the 11th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference (GASLA 2011) (pp.135–142). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Schönenberger, M. , Sterner, F. , & Ruberg, T.
    (2011) The Realization of Indirect Objects and Dative Case in German. In J. Herschensohn , & D. Tanner (Eds.), Proceedings of the 11th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference (GASLA 2011) (pp.143–151). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Sorace, A.
    (2011) Pinning down the concept of “interface” in bilingualism. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 1(1), 1–34. doi: 10.1075/lab.1.1.01sor
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lab.1.1.01sor [Google Scholar]
  43. Tsimpli, I.-M. , & Mastropavlou, M.
    (2007) Feature interpretability in L2 acquisition and SLI: Greek clitics and determiners. In J. Liceras , H. Zobl , & H. Goodluck (Eds.), The role of formal features in second language acquisition (pp.142–183). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum
    [Google Scholar]
  44. White, L.
    (2003) Fossilization in steady state L2 grammars: persistent problems with inflectional morphology. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 6, 129–141. doi: 10.1017/S1366728903001081
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728903001081 [Google Scholar]
  45. (2008) Definiteness effects in the L2 English of Mandarin and Turkish speakers. In H. Chan , H. Jacob , & E. Kapia (Eds.), Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp.550,561). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. (2011) Second language acquisition at the interfaces, Lingua121, 577–590. doi: 10.1016/j.lingua.2010.05.005
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2010.05.005 [Google Scholar]
  47. White, L. , Belikova, A. , Hagström, P. , Kupisch, T. & Özcelik, Ö.
    (2012) Restrictions on definiteness in second language acquisition. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 2(1), 54–89. doi: 10.1075/lab.2.1.03whi
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lab.2.1.03whi [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error