Acquisition of Dative Alternation by German-English and French-English Bilingual and Monolingual Children


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Presented at Manchester Salford New Researchers Forum in Linguistics, University of Manchester, 3rd November 2012

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  • Engbiling1 ungram construction = take DOCAdult biling 2 errors = geben PC x2
  • More DOD for bilinguals at all ages even for polyglot adults
  • Note delay here vs transfer in task 1, because the items/responses here are dependent on the individual lexical items
  • Acquisition of Dative Alternation by German-English and French-English Bilingual and Monolingual Children

    1. 1. The acquisition of dative alternation by German-English and French-English bilingual and monolingual children Manchester Salford Forum in Linguistics University of Manchester 3rd November 2012 Rebecca Woods Samir Zarqane University of York University of Sheffield/Exeter 1
    2. 2. Research Questions• How do simultaneous bilingual children acquire phenomena at the syntax/semantics interface?• In which ways do they diverge from the monolingual ‘norm’?• Is divergence permanent, or is it overcome in the adult state? 2
    3. 3. Dative alternation• Dative alternation is syntactic variation which encodes subtle semantic differences in utterances with ditransitive verbs – Syntax-Semantics (internal) interface phenomenon• Prepositional Construction (PC): – The boy gives the ball to the dog SUBJ ditransitive verb DO preposition IO• Double-Object Construction (DOC): – The boy gives the dog the ball SUBJ ditransitive verb IO DO 3
    4. 4. Prepositional Construction (PC)• The only available construction in French (when full lexical NPs are used) (1) Le garçon donne le ballon au chien The boy gives theball to+the dog• Available with most verbs in English• Restricted in German – Not possible with ‘zeigen’ (to show), pragmatically restricted with ‘geben’ (to give), possible with ‘bringen’ (to bring)• Not semantically restricted, i.e. does not require an animate possessor/recipient, does not have same level of entailment 4
    5. 5. Double-Object Construction (DOC)• Not possible with full lexical NPs in French (2) *Le garçon donne le chien le ballon The boy gives the dog the ball• Restricted, though not uncommon, in English• Available with many verbs in German – The only possible option with ‘zeigen’, the neutral option with ‘geben’, possible also with ‘bringen’• Requires animate possessor/recipient• Stronger entailment of possession/completion (3) Beth taught French to the students vs (4) Beth taught the students French 5
    6. 6. Our studies: Participants• 25 German-English bilingual • 15 French-English bilingual children (4;9-8;8) children (4;11-7;4)• 29 monolingual English • 19 monolingual English children (5;2-8;8) children (4;10-7;8)• 5 German-English bilingual • 15 monolingual French adults brought up in the same children (4;8-7;5), context • 15 native English-speaking• 7 native German-speaking and employees at the University of 6 monolingual (southern) Sheffield (7 polyglots, 8 English students at the monolinguals) University of York 40 bilingual children 48 monolingual English children (15 monolingual French children) 5 bilingual adults 6
    7. 7. Our studies: Procedure• Children’s aptitude determined through parental questionnaires/experimenter’s observations – Children excluded if notably stronger in one language than the other – German tests preceded by a “Ring” test (Drenhaus and Féry, 2008) to ensure knowledge of case marking• Native speaker experimenters used where possible to promote natural language environment• Tests conducted during school hours in a quiet space/participants’ homes – familiar surroundings• Long breaks between tests in different languages 7
    8. 8. (6) Springe in dem Ring Jump-IMP in the-DAT ring ‘Jump up and down in the ring’ Dative(5) Springe in den Ring Jump-IMP in the-ACC ring ‘Jump into the ring’ Accusative 8
    9. 9. Our studies: Methodology• Elicited Production task – Watching clips (3-10 seconds each) of Tom and Jerry cartoons depicting ditransitive actions; participant must describe action – Agent established as the topic of the stimulus question: ‘What did Jerry do?’ – Target words: give, show, throw, feed, bring, take, offer 9
    10. 10. Our studies: Methodology• Act-out task – Using toys provided, participant acts out stimulus imperative sentences with ditransitive verbs (cf. Cook, 1976) e.g. (7) Show the boy the banana (8) Bring the orange to the girl (9) Give the girl the cat (10) Show the cat to the boy (11) Give him the frog 10
    11. 11. Our studies: Methodology• Grammaticality judgment task – Puppet speaks stimulus sentences; participant must recognise and correct ungrammatical utterances – Two types of ungrammatical utterances • Broad Range Rules = form-predicting • Narrow Range Rules = existence predicting (Pinker 1989) 11
    12. 12. Grammaticality Judgment Task Stimuli• Broad Range Rules (form-predicting) – Key semantic criteria for DOCs, e.g. in English, the notion of “cause-to-have”, either physically or metaphorically – Good example (12) The boy gives the girl the flower – Violation (13) *The man opens the woman the door• Narrow Range Rules (existence-predicting) – Language-specific rules determining alternation, e.g. in English ballistic motion “throw” can alternate, but continuous motion “pull” cannot. Also ‘morphophonemic’ restrictions on Latinate verbs – Violation: (14) *The man describes the woman the picture 12
    13. 13. HypothesesProduction Task- Transfer from the less complex language to the morecomplex language (in terms of evidence for alternation)Act-out Task- No transfer- No difference in comprehension between bilinguals andmonolinguals- Earlier comprehension of DOCs in German due to overtcase markingGrammaticality Judgment Task- No transfer- Delay in bilinguals compared with monolinguals 13
    14. 14. Production task results• English – monolingual children use 68% PCs, 21 different verbs. No ungrammatical constructions. – bilingual children use 60.4% PCs with 22 different verbs. Only 1 ungrammatical construction• German – bilingual children use 52.5% PCs, with 15 different verbs. 28% of responses featured incorrect/pragmatically inappropriate constructions : (15)*Tom zeigt das Buch zu Jerry Tom shows the book to Jerry• Bilingual adults behaved like their monolingual counterparts in both languages: 67% PCs in English vs 35% PCs in German ; only 2 pragmatic errors 14
    15. 15. Bilinguals’ production of dative constructions in each language 90 (German-English study, PCs = block colour; DOCs = patterned) 80 70 60 50Mean (%) English PC English DOC 40 German PC German DOC 30 20 10 0 Reception Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Adult Age 15
    16. 16. Production task results• English – monolingual children use 39% PCs, 7 verbs – bilingual children use 72% PCs, 8 verbs• French – monolingual children use 89% PCs with canonical word order, 9 verbs – bilingual children use 85% PCs with canonical word order, 13 verbs 16
    17. 17. Production of dative constructions in English (French-English study) 17
    18. 18. Bilinguals’ production of dative constructions in French and English 70 60 50 40 Mean English PC English DOC 30 French PC French DOC 20 10 0 Reception Year Year one Year two Age 18
    19. 19. Production task: Discussion and Comparison• Transfer from the less • Transfer from the most restricted language (Eng) to restricted language (Fre) to the more restricted language the less restricted language (Ger) (Eng)•Vocabulary use suggests bilinguals and monolinguals have thesame lexical knowledge• Bilingual children use alternation similarly in eachlanguage, suggesting TRANSFER, leading to non-monolingual-likeconstructions in the language with the more subtle paradigm• Eng-Ger evidence suggests that between the ages of 8;0 andadulthood, bilinguals learn the semantic restrictions of the languageaffected by transfer, so transfer ceases 19
    20. 20. Act-out task: Discussion and Comparison • Bilingual and monolingual • Bilingual and monolingual children show same level of children show same level of comprehension comprehension – Problems throughout all – Some problems with age groups with Animacy Animacy for older bilinguals• High degree of accuracy from a young age• Animacy is problematic in all DOCs and some PCs in children• By adulthood, animacy no longer affects comprehension 20
    21. 21. Grammaticality judgment task results• Only Y2-Y3 (6;9-8;8) responses analysed due to difficulty of task• English – All groups recognise grammatical stimuli to at least 75% accuracy – Monolingual children recognise ungrammatical stimuli between 62-100% of BRR cases and 50-67% of NRR cases – Bilingual children below 33% accuracy on all ungrammatical stimuli – Significant effects of Constraint*Age (p<0.01), Constraint*Language (p<0.01), Language (p<0.001) and Age*Language (p<0.001).• Bilingual adults – Not significantly different from monolingual adults 21
    22. 22. Responses to the Grammaticality Judgement task in English (German-English study) 100.00 90.00 80.00 70.00 60.00Mean (%) 50.00 Grammatical 40.00 BRR NRR 30.00 20.00 10.00 0.00 Monolingual Bilingual Monolingual Bilingual Monolingual Bilingual Year 2 Year 3 Adult Language grouped by Age 22
    23. 23. Grammaticality judgment task results• German 100.00 90.00 – Bilingual children show 80.00 similar pattern to 70.00 English: 75-90% accuracy 60.00 with grammatical Mean (%) 50.00 stimuli; Grammatical BRR 27-37% accuracy with 40.00 NRR ungrammatical stimuli 30.00• Bilingual adults 20.00 10.00 – Unexpectedly weaker on 0.00 NRR violations, but still Year 2 Year 3 Bilingual adult Monolingual adult accurate above chance Age 23
    24. 24. Grammaticality judgment task results• English – Significant effect for Construction (p<0.05) – Morphological constraint (NRR) on dative alternation is problematic for all children – Semantic constraint (BRR) seems to be acquired before the morphological one – Children also tend to reject grammatical sentences – Adult monolinguals unexpectedly reject grammatical sentences 24
    25. 25. Responses to the Grammaticality Judgement task in English (French-English study) 25
    26. 26. Grammaticality judgment test results• French – Bilinguals tend to accept ungrammatical sentences in French – Reception/Y1s considerably less accurate with ungrammatical than with grammatical stimuli – Slight advantage for monolinguals in Y2 26
    27. 27. Grammaticality Judgment task: Discussion and Conclusion • Bilingual children between • Bilingual children between 6;9 and 8;8 do not recognise 6;9 and 7;8 are less accurate either kind of ungrammatical at recognising both stimuli, though monolingual grammatical and children do ungrammatical stimuli• Bilingual children show equal competence in both languages• They usually recognise grammatical stimuli but do not rejectungrammatical stimuli• Between the ages of 8;8 and adulthood, the full range of semanticrules/features are acquired, and bilingual adults largely behave liketheir monolingual peers – semantic acquisition is DELAYED• However, attrition seems to occur if exposure to one of the languagesis not maintained 27
    28. 28. Discussion• Limitations of the study include small sample sizes, all bilinguals are based in England, and more age groups are needed• Effects of one language upon the other tend to be quantitative, i.e. transfer in task 1 and delay in task 3, rather than qualitative, i.e. acquiring phenomena in different orders• Two types of competence in evidence: – Bilinguals’ syntactic competence = monolingual competence – Bilinguals’ semantic competence =/= monolingual competence 28
    29. 29. Discussion cont.• Implications for acquisition at the interfaces – The syntax-semantics interface, an internal interface, is susceptible to cross-linguistic influence, just like external interfaces e.g. the syntax-pragmatics interface – The interfaces play a role in non-“endstage” contexts (cf. Sorace and Filiaci’s Interface Hypothesis), but in the acquisition process also 29
    30. 30. Conclusions and future research• Reduced input in each language compared to monolinguals appears to result in underdetermination of the more complex semantic system in bilinguals• Bilinguals’ syntactic competence is, however, the same as their monolingual peers• Bilingual children seem to overcome instances of transfer and delay as they enter the adult state, as long as quality and quantity of input and exposure are maintained• Areas for future research – Larger sample groups; also German monolingual children – Older children (up to around 12;0) – Ultimately examining multiple interfaces in the same experimental sample to learn more about how the interfaces differ 30
    31. 31. References• Cook, Vivian J. (1976). A note on indirect objects. Journal of Child Language, 3(3), 435-437.• Drenhaus, Heiner, & Féry, Caroline (2008). Animacy and child grammar: an OT account. Lingua, 118, 222-244.• Meisel, Jürgen M. (2004). The bilingual child. In: Tej K. Bhatia & William C. Ritchie, eds. The Handbook of Bilingualism (Chapter 4). Malden, MA.: Blackwell.• O’Grady, William (1997). Syntactic Development. Chicago, IL.: University of Chicago Press.• Pinker, Steven (1989). Learnability and Cognition: the Acquisition of Argument Structure. Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press• Roeper, Thomas, Lapointe, Steve, Bing, J., & Tavakolian, Susan (1981). A lexical approach to language acquisition. In: Susan Tavakolian, ed. Language acquisition and linguistic theory. Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press.• Romaine, Suzanne (1995). Bilingualism. Malden, MA.: Blackwell• Sorace, Antonella, & Filiaci, Francesca (2006). Anaphora resolution in near-native speakers of Italian. Second Language Research, 22(3), 339-368.• Sorace, Antonella (2012, 14 March). The bilingual native speaker [Department of Language and Linguistic Science Colloquium Series]. University of York.• Woods, Rebecca (2012). Dative alternation and its acquisition by German-English bilingual and English monolingual children. Unpublished Masters dissertation, University of York.• Zarqane, Samir (2009). Dative constructions in English-French bilingual and monolingual acquisition. Unpublished Masters dissertation, University of Sheffield. 31