EUROSLA 6: A selection of papers
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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Child bilingualism has been a domain of growing interest in the last few years. A central question in research concerns the differentiation of the two languages in the developmen-tal process: do children develop two separate language systems from the very beginning or do they start with a combined system? In this discussion, aspects of word order play an essential role. Radford (1986) has compared early child utterances with so called "small clauses". In small clauses, word order would be relatively free due to the fact that children have not yet acquired the concept of case marking which puts constraints on word order. In this assumption, word order would not be expected to be differen-tiated in the first stages of the two languages of the bilingual child. Others however (Meisel, 1989, Frijn & de Haan 1994) have suggested that word order from the two-word stage on is almost invariably correct and in line with parameter settings in the adult language.At first sight, the utterances of the French-Dutch bilingual child that we study do not support one or the other of these two views unambiguously. Despite the fact that French is a head initial, SVO language and that the majority of the utterances of the child are in accordance with this parameter setting, utterances with SOV order and other Dutch-like word orders do appear in her French with a certain frequency. In our discussion we will show that, while the early (S)OV patterns can probably be explained by the absence of a fully fledged functional projection IP in the child's grammar, this cannot account for these patterns in later phases. The persistent presence of OV patterns in the French utterances - that are (although very rarely) encountered in French monolingual children as well - seems to be caused, then, by the continuing Dutch input that may very well be the factor that "pushes up" the production of [XP V] patterns in the child's French.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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