LINGUIST List 32.1831

Wed May 26 2021

Diss: Language Acquisition: Author: Christina Domene Moreno: ''Diss Title: Beyond transfer? The acquisition of an L3 phonology by Turkish-German bilinguals''

Editor for this issue: Sarah Robinson <>

Date: 01-Apr-2021
From: Christina Domene Moreno <>
Subject: Diss Title: Beyond transfer? The acquisition of an L3 phonology by Turkish-German bilinguals
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Institution: Julius-Maximilians-Universitaet Wuerzburg
Program: English Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2020

Author: Christina Domene Moreno

Dissertation Title: Beyond transfer? The acquisition of an L3 phonology by Turkish-German bilinguals

Dissertation URL:

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition

Dissertation Director:
Kabak Barış
Kupisch Tanja

Dissertation Abstract:

Within the relatively new area of research on Third Language (L3) Acquisition, the subfield of phonology is growing, but still relatively understudied. Testing the current L3 models adopted from research on L3 syntax (see Rothman 2010, Bardel & Falk 2012, Flynn et al. 2004), the studies conducted in the area have mostly focused on the source and directionality of language transfer – both into the L3 and into the respective background languages – with some recent excursions into the role of extra-linguistic factors for multilingual learners (e.g., Wrembel 2015). The findings so far (mostly on production, with perception lagging behind) have been very diverse and, depending on the concrete study, can often be taken to give evidence for any of the prevalent models. This can be attributed to the wide range of different speaker and learner biographies as well as their language combinations and state of acquisition, but crucially the dilemma seems to be inherent in the (phonological) system in and of itself since viewing phonological interlanguage transfer as a one-dimensional and immediately transparent process based on direct correspondences between language systems does not seem to capture the complex nature of the phenomenon.

In this doctoral thesis I investigate the acquisition of an additional phonological system by child and adult German heritage speakers of Turkish. Specifically, I aim to explore how the learners deal with diverse phonological contrasts that promote positive contra negative transfer from their HL (Turkish) and their L2 (German), and how their perception and production is modulated by cognitive and affective variables. Moreover, I test contrasts that can be found neither in the HL nor in the L2 phonological system to tease apart transfer phenomena from effects caused elsewhere in the bilingual mind when dealing with a new system.

The studies shed light both on the question of how a new language is shaped and affected by different existing systems and on how two or more phonological grammars co-exist and/or interact in a speaker’s mind. I argue that, rather than being regarded as simple full projection of language-specific property sets onto the target language, phonological transfer in multilinguals needs to be considered as a process of complex interactions and layers that are established on the level of individual phonological properties and abstract (typological) associations.

Page Updated: 26-May-2021