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How Traditions Live and Die

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The Acquisition of Heritage Languages

By Silvina Montrul

"This work centres on the grammatical development of the heritage language and the language learning trajectory of heritage speakers, synthesizing recent experimental research."


Academic Paper


Title: The development of associative word learning in monolingual and bilingual infants
Author: Krista Byers-Heinlein
Institution: Concordia University
Author: Christopher T. Fennell
Institution: University of Ottawa
Author: Janet F Werker
Institution: University of British Columbia
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Abstract: Children growing up bilingual face a unique linguistic environment. The current study investigated whether early bilingual experience influences the developmental trajectory of associative word learning, a foundational mechanism for lexical acquisition. Monolingual and bilingual infants (N = 98) were tested on their ability to learn dissimilar-sounding words (lif and neem) in the Switch task. Twelve-month-olds from both language backgrounds failed to detect a violation of a previously taught word–object pairing. However, both monolinguals and bilinguals succeeded at 14 months, and their performance did not differ. The results indicate that early bilingual experience does not interfere with the development of the fundamental ability to form word–object associations, suggesting that this mechanism is robust across different early language environments.

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Vol. 16, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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