Chapter published in:Foreign Language Education in Multilingual Classrooms
Edited by Andreas Bonnet and Peter Siemund
[Hamburg Studies on Linguistic Diversity 7] 2018
► pp. 381–405
Learning English demonstrative pronouns on bilingual substrate
Evidence from German heritage speakers of Russian, Turkish, and Vietnamese
An eminent question in current discussions of cross-linguistic transfer concerns the role of previously acquired languages for the learning and acquisition of subsequent languages. While for monolinguals learning a second language it seems obvious that all cross-linguistic influence must be traceable to the first language, the source of cross-linguistic influence is much harder to pin down in bilingual and multilingual constellations, as all previously acquired languages can in principle interact in the acquisition process of a further language. Which language is selected for cross-linguistic influence and under what conditions is a matter of much debate. The present study explores a sample of 172 learners of English as an additional language who had acquired German in combination with a heritage language (Russian, Turkish, Vietnamese) before they started to learn English. The students were 12 and 16 years old when they were recorded on the basis of picture stories, interviews, and questionnaires. The grammatical phenomenon we are interested in here concerns demonstrative pronouns, which function differently in the languages under consideration in the present context. We consider determinative and identificational uses of demonstratives, but also the subordinating function of the demonstrative that. Our results show important differences in the usage of demonstratives among the two different age groups and among the three heritage languages involved. We argue that these differences can be interpreted in different ways, cross-linguistic influence being one of them, though this is not necessarily the most important factor. Additional factors include academic performance, register differences (oral versus written), and the age of the students.
Keywords: cross-linguistic influence, demonstrative pronouns, English as an additional language, heritage languages, multilingualism, subordination
Published online: 24 October 2018
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