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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: Relating Events in Two Languages. Acquisition of Cohesive Devices by Turkish-Dutch Bilingual Children at School Age Add Dissertation
Author: Jeroen Aarssen Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Universiteit van Tilburg, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 1996
Linguistic Subfield(s): Psycholinguistics; Language Acquisition;
Subject Language(s): Dutch
Director(s): Ludo Verhoeven
Guus Extra

Abstract: This dissertation contains a (pseudo)longitudinal investigation into bilingual development in Turkish and Dutch. Informants were 50 Turkish children in the Netherlands at school age, between age 4 and 10. For comparison, data from monolingual peers in the Netherlands and Turkey (with comparable low SES) were collected.

The results of two experiments demonstrate that children at school age are in a process of acquiring advanced grammatical means, such as reflexives and relative clauses. The bilingual children do not develop differently from the monolinguals. Furthermore, the experimental results illustrate that Turkish is the stronger language in younger children. After age 8, the level of receptive grammatical skills in Dutch is getting closer to that in Turkish.

Analyses of narrative data show how children move from first encoding individual events to organising these events hierarchically and encoding them in multiclausal constructions. Younger children are, for instance, not able to establish a main character in a narrative. Their use of tense is unstable. They adhere to the order of successive events, whereas older children find means to encode simultaneous events. Young children's stories can be characterised as static descriptions of single pictures, which results in juxtaposed clauses. Older children develop the skills to organise their texts by using a range of forms for referring to characters, depending on the particular discourse function, and by distinguishing different functions of simultaneity. They are able to give a dynamic account of a series of pictures by relating a series of foregrounded events and by alternating these events with backgrounded descriptions.

The results in this study lead to the conclusion that bilingual children acquire two first languages, which develop into a Turkish-Dutch bilingual proficiency throughout the school years. Comparison of the bilingual children's results with those of the monolingual speakers shows that learning two languages more or less simultaneously may be beneficial in the end: bilingual children have a later start, but are not later finishers than monolingual children.