The Acquisition of Gender Agreement in the Determiner Phrase by Bilingual Children
In this paper, we looked at the acquisition of gender agreement in the DP by bilingual children acquiring both a Romance (Spanish or French) and Germanic (Dutch) language. The prediction was that gender agreement would be acquired earlier by bilinguals in their Romance language than in Dutch. Seven French/Dutch and nine Spanish/Dutch children participated in a sentence completion task created to elicit gender-marked determiners. It turned out that the French/Dutch bilinguals made more errors in gender assignment in Dutch than in French, which confirms this hypothesis. The Spanish/Dutch bilinguals showed atypical behaviour, omitting articles in both Dutch and Spanish quite frequendy, which indicated a delay in both languages. Since the French/Dutch bilinguals were more proficient in both languages than their Spanish peers, we suggest that a certain proficiency in the two languages must be attained in order to prevent a delay in acquisition.
Published online: 24 March 2014