Production and on-line comprehension of definiteness in English and Dutch by monolingual and sequential bilingual children

Vasiliki Chondrogianni, Nada Vasic, Theodoros Marinis, Elma Blom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The present article examines production and on-line processing of definite articles in Turkish-speaking sequential bilingual children acquiring English and Dutch as second languages (L2) in the UK and in the Netherlands, respectively. Thirty-nine 6–8-year-old L2 children and 48 monolingual (L1) age-matched children participated in two separate studies examining the production of definite articles in English and Dutch in conditions manipulating semantic context, that is, the anaphoric and the bridging contexts. Sensitivity to article omission was examined in the same groups of children using an on-line processing task involving article use in the same semantic contexts as in the production task. The results indicate that both L2 children and L1 controls are less accurate when definiteness is established by keeping track of the discourse referents (anaphoric) than when it is established via world knowledge (bridging). Moreover, despite variable production, all groups of children were sensitive to the omission of definite articles in the on-line comprehension task. This suggests that the errors of omission are not due to the lack of abstract syntactic representations, but could result from processes implicated in the spell-out of definite articles. The findings are in line with the idea that variable production in child L2 learners does not necessarily indicate lack of abstract representations (Haznedar and Schwartz, 1997).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-341
Number of pages33
JournalSecond Language Research
Volume31
Issue number3
Early online date7 Jan 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015

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