Edited by Leah Roberts, Martin Howard, Muiris Ó Laoire and David Singleton
[EUROSLA Yearbook 10] 2010
► pp. 193–219
It has been suggested that child L1 learners overuse the definite article in indefinite contexts due to maturational/pragmatic factors such as egocentricity and an inability to differentiate common ground contexts from speaker beliefs-only contexts (Maratsos 1976; Schaeffer & Matthewson 2005). Knowledge of semantic features such as specificity and definiteness is also implicated in L1 learners’ (in)correct article use (Ionin et al. 2004; 2009). In the context of child bilingualism, on the other hand, difficulties in acquisition of articles are expected to be doubled when one of the languages of the child does not have a corresponding article system. To address these issues and to identify parallels between monolingual and bilingual language acquisition, we examine the use of English articles by a Serbo-Croatian-English simultaneous bilingual child and two monolingual English-speaking children. The results reveal qualitative and quantitative differences between monolingual and bilingual children’s use of English articles, possibly due to the influence of Serbo-Croatian (an article-less language). The findings suggest that in simultaneous child bilingualism, cross-linguistic transfer overrides maturational/pragmatic or semantic factors that are tied to incorrect article use (cf. Zdorenko & Paradis 2008).
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