Edited by Kateřina Fibigerová, Jean-Marc Colletta and Michèle Guidetti
[Language, Interaction and Acquisition 9:1] 2018
► pp. 69–100
French-English bilingual children’s motion event communication shows crosslinguistic influence in speech but not gesture
Bilinguals sometimes show crosslinguistic influence from one language to another while speaking (or gesturing). Adult bilinguals have also shown crosslinguistic influence in gestures as well as speech, suggesting an underlying conceptualization that is similar for both languages. The primary purpose of the present study is to test if the same is true of simultaneous French-English bilingual children in speaking and gesturing about motion. If so, they might show different patterns from both French and English monolinguals. Furthermore, we examined whether there were developmental changes between early and middle childhood. French-English bilingual and French and English monolingual children watched two cartoons and described them. In speech, the bilinguals differed from the English monolinguals, using more lexicalizations of the Path of motion in token numbers but not in type. They did not differ from the French monolinguals. In gestures, all children used a majority of Path gestures. There were few age-related changes. We argue that in speech, the bilinguals conceptualize their two languages differently, but show some crosslinguistic influence due to processing. Gestures may not show this same pattern, because they serve to highlight the important parts of the discourse.