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Academic Paper

Title: Acquisition of complement clitics and tense morphology in internationally adopted children acquiring French
Author: K. Gauthier
Institution: McGill University
Author: Fred Genesee
Institution: McGill University
Author: K. Kasparian
Institution: McGill University
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics
Subject Language: French
Abstract: The present study examined the language development of children adopted from China to examine possible early age effects with respect to their use of complement clitics, lexical diversity and verb morphology. We focused on these aspects of French because they distinguish second language learners of French and native French-speaking children with language impairment from children learning French as a native language and, in the case of object clitics and certain verb tenses, are relatively late to emerge in native speakers. Thus, it might be expected that they would be susceptible to the delayed onset of acquisition of French experienced by internationally adopted children. Language samples of twelve adopted children from 3;6 to 4;8 living in French-speaking families were analyzed and compared to those of non-adopted monolingual French-speaking children of the same age, sex and socio-economic status. The adopted and control children had similar levels of socio-emotional adjustment and non-verbal intellectual abilities. The adopted children exhibited accelerated language development in general, and there were no significant differences between the internationally adopted and control children with respect to lexical diversity and verb tense. However, the adopted children made significantly more errors using complement clitics, and in particular object clitics, compared to the non-adopted children. The results are discussed in terms of possible effects related to delayed age of acquisition of French.


This article appears IN Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Vol. 15, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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