Edited by Elma Blom, Leonie Cornips and Jeannette Schaeffer
[Studies in Bilingualism 52] 2017
► pp. 231–258
Complexity and production/comprehension asymmetries in the acquisition of wh-questions in French
Comparing second language acquisition and language impairment in children
Assuming that production places a greater burden on processing than comprehension, this study explores the hypothesis that both the degree of linguistic computational complexity entailed in a particular structure and the processing capacity of the speakers determine if and when production/comprehension asymmetries will surface. Elicited production and comprehension of French wh-questions were studied in 29 English-speaking children acquiring French as a second language (L2) and 27 French-speaking children with Specific Language Impairment, aged 6 to 12. Results confirm the hypothesis and underline the fundamental role of complexity in language acquisition, pointing to implications for the effects of first language transfer, age of onset and length of exposure in L2 acquisition, and on differences between children with and without language pathology.
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