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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: Gender in Italian–German bilinguals: A comparison with German L2 learners of Italian
Author: Giulia Bianchi
Institution: Universität Hamburg
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Subject Language: German
Italian
Abstract: This study compares mastery of gender assignment and agreement in Italian by adult Italian–German bilinguals who have acquired two languages simultaneously (2L1), and by adult German highly proficient second language learners (L2ers) of Italian. Our data show that incompleteness in bilingual acquisition and in second language (L2) acquisition primarily affects gender assignment: the categorization of nouns and the interpretable feature are subject to vulnerability in the two modalities of acquisition. Overall, mastery of morpho-syntax (i.e., gender agreement) was nearly native-like for both groups of speakers, suggesting that uninterpretable features are unlikely to be subject to vulnerability in the heritage language of adult bilingual speakers and can be acquired in adult L2 acquisition. Deviances from the target in gender assignment and, to a lesser extent, in gender agreement are attributed to both language-internal (i.e., language) and language-external factors (i.e., amount of input).

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Vol. 16, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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