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Pronominal objects in English–Italian and Spanish–Italian bilingual children

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    Rights statement: © Serratrice, L., Sorace, A., Filiaci, F., & Baldo, M. (2012). Pronominal objects in English–Italian and Spanish–Italian bilingual children. Applied Psycholinguistics, 33(4), 725-751doi: 10.1017/S0142716411000543

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-751
Number of pages26
JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
Volume33
Issue number4
Early online date13 Oct 2011
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012

Abstract

This study investigated the role of typological relatedness, language of the community, and age, in predicting similarities and differences between English–Italian, Spanish–Italian bilingual children and their monolingual child and adult counterparts in the acceptability of pre- and postverbal object pronouns in [±focus] contexts in Italian and in English. Cross-linguistic influence occurred in [−focus] contexts as a function of typological relatedness and language of the community. English–Italian bilinguals in the UK accepted pragmatically inappropriate postverbal pronouns in [−focus] contexts in Italian twice as often as all the other groups. Cross-linguistic influence was unidirectional from English to Italian as shown by the categorical rejection of preverbal pronouns in [−focus] contexts in English. In [+focus] contexts, in English no significant differences existed between the monolinguals and the bilinguals in the low accuracy with which they chose pragmatically appropriate stressed pronouns. Similarly, the choice of appropriate pronouns in [+focus] contexts in Italian was problematic for monolingual and bilingual children irrespective of the language of the community and of the bilinguals’ other language. Age was a factor only for the Italian children who approached adultlike performance in [+focus] contexts only by the age of 10. These findings point to the need for a multifaceted approach to account for similarities and differences between the linguistic behavior of bilingual and monolingual children.

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