Edited by Ludmila Isurin and Claudia Maria Riehl
[IMPACT: Studies in Language, Culture and Society 44] 2017
► pp. 225–268
Chapter 8. Lost in transmission?
Family language input and its role for the development of Russian as a heritage language in Germany
The paper deals with parental input and its role for heritage language maintenance by second generation speakers of Russian in Germany. Based on the data collected from one family, we investigate the realization of Voice Onset Time (VOT) in Russian by the parents and their children. Our main findings show that the children are already exposed to deviant input if compared to VOT values reported for Russian monolinguals. However, the children’s VOT values do not coincide with their parents’ patterns, but show an even stronger convergence towards German VOT measures. We conclude that individual attrition is at work for all family members, but proceeds at greater speed with the children. Parental input thus paves the way for the development of the children, but other factors come into play as well which add to the effects of parental input, for example individual processing problems of the heritage language in the case of the children.