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Effects of age and language structure in bilingual discourse: evidence from motion verbs, lexical diversity and syntactic compactness in narratives

Abstract : For some authors, age is considered to be one of the main factors that influence discourse abilities in bilinguals (Ramscar et al., 2014), and that typological distance or differences in the grammatical features or lexicalization patterns of the two languages of the bilingual cannot be a barrier for learning processing if the target feature to be learned is processable at the given point in time (Pienemann, 2007). The present study examines the effect of age and language in the bilingual discourse, and more specifically how two age groups of bilingual children (6 and 10 year-olds), speaking two typologically different languages (Talmy, 2000), a satellite-framed (English) and a verb-framed (French) : (a) construct discourse, (b) choose their motion lexicon and (c) organize spatial information in narratives. 18 English-French bilingual children, nine 6 year-olds and nine 10 year-olds, were tested in a semi-controlled narrative task with Mayer’s (1969) Frog Where Are You? storybook in both of their languages. Discourse markers such as pauses, repairs, hesitations, omissions and code-switching, as well as the lexical and morphosyntactic choices made by the two groups of bilingual children were compared in narratives elicited by the same stimuli in the two languages of the participants. The analysis shows that discourse construction and morphosyntactic performance are subject to age influence, while lexical diversity, semantic richness and syntactic compactness largely depend on the specific linguistic, and thus typological, properties of the involved languages in bilinguals' speech.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02085265
Contributor : Cathy Cohen <>
Submitted on : Monday, April 15, 2019 - 12:03:32 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 12, 2020 - 3:56:13 PM

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  • HAL Id : halshs-02085265, version 1

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Efstathia Soroli, Cathy Cohen. Effects of age and language structure in bilingual discourse: evidence from motion verbs, lexical diversity and syntactic compactness in narratives. Annual International Conference on Languages & Linguistics, Jul 2018, Athènes, Greece. ⟨halshs-02085265⟩

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