Edited by Martin Howard and Pascale Leclercq
[Studies in Bilingualism 50] 2017
► pp. 75–103
The present study investigates the comprehension of perfective and imperfective aspect in Greek-English bilingual children. Previous work on L2 acquisition of aspect indicates that imperfective aspect appears later than perfective aspect in the marking of past events across various languages (Andersen & Shirai 1996; Bardovi-Harlig 2000) and that the [+ habitual] feature of imperfective aspect, appears later than the [+ continuous] feature (Bardovi-Harlig & Reynolds 1995; Shirai 2002); the same pattern also holds for adult learners of L2 Greek (Mattheoudakis et al. 2011; Papadopoulou 2005). Sixty children, thirty Greek-English bilinguals and thirty Greek monolinguals, completed a forced choice oral task, in which they had to select between the perfective and imperfective aspect of a specific verb. The task consisted of short stories which tested three experimental conditions: perfective, [+ continuous] imperfective and [+ habitual] imperfective; for each condition individual stories with and without temporal conjunctions were provided. The results revealed that the perfective aspect was successfully acquired, while problems with the imperfective aspect are evident, especially when the imperfective sentences denote habituality. The participants’ performance suggests no association between the presence of conjunctions and the decoding of aspect. Interestingly, a significant correlation was found between children’s vocabulary level and their performance on aspect.