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Academic Paper


Title: Do young bilinguals acquire past tense morphology like monolinguals, only later? Evidence from French–English and Chinese–English bilinguals
Author: Elena Nicoladis
Institution: University of Alberta
Author: Jianhui Song
Institution: University of Alberta
Author: Paula Marentette
Institution: University of Alberta
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics
Subject Language: Chinese, Mandarin
English
French
Abstract: Previous studies have shown that preschool bilingual children lag behind same-aged monolinguals in their production of correct past tense forms. This lag has been attributed to bilinguals' less frequent exposure to either language. If so, bilingual children acquire the past tense like monolinguals, only later. In this study, we compared the English past tense production of Chinese–English bilingual children with a matched sample of French–English bilinguals (5–12 years old). The results showed small but reliable differences in the children's past tense production (e.g., the kinds of errors the children made) that could be attributed to knowledge of the other language. Both groups of children showed equivalent rates of accuracy, suggesting that bilinguals exposed to naturalistic speech acquire the past tense much like monolinguals do, only later and with some effects, most likely morphophonological, from their other language.

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This article appears IN Applied Psycholinguistics Vol. 33, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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