Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Age of acquisition and proficiency as factors in language production: Agreement in bilinguals*

  • REBECCA FOOTE (a1)

Abstract

Research on the production of subject–verb number agreement in monolinguals suggests differences between and within languages in how it proceeds as a function of morphological richness. When agreement morphology is relatively rich, the influence of conceptual number over grammatical number is less than when it is relatively poor. Within the framework of Eberhard, Cutting and Bock's (2005) marking and morphing account of agreement production, this finding is explained by how number features from the syntax and the lexicon are reconciled. This study asks: (1) Can this account of differences in agreement production as a function of morphological richness be extended to the case of bilinguals? (2) Do age of acquisition and/or proficiency modulate whether these differences surface in bilinguals? Agreement production was examined in early and late English–Spanish, and late Spanish–English bilinguals of varying proficiency. Higher-proficiency bilinguals patterned similarly to monolinguals, supporting the extension of the marking and morphing account.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: University of Illinois, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, 4080 Foreign Languages Building, MC – 176, 707 S. Mathews Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801, USArfoote@illinois.edu

Footnotes

Hide All
*

The research reported in this article is a revised version of portions of the author's PhD dissertation, completed at the University of Illinois. Earlier versions of this research were presented at the Hispanic Linguistics Symposium (Pennsylvania State University, November 2005) and at the American Association for Applied Linguistics (Costa Mesa, CA, April 2007). Thanks go to Silvina Montrul and Kathryn Bock for their supervision of the dissertation, and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. All remaining errors are my own.

Footnotes

References

Hide All
Beck, M. L. (1998). L2 acquisition and obligatory head movement: English-speaking learners of German and the local impairment hypothesis. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 20 (3), 311348.
Birdsong, D. (1992). Ultimate attainment in second language acquisition. Language, 68 (4), 706755.
Birdsong, D. (2006).) Age and second language acquisition and processing, a selective overview. Language Learning, 56 (S1), 949.
Birdsong, D. & Molis, M. (2001). On the evidence for maturational constraints in second-language acquisition. Journal of Memory and Language, 44 (2), 235249.
Bley-Vroman, R. (1989). What is the logical problem of foreign language learning? In Gass, S. & Schachter, J. (eds.), Linguistic perspectives on second language acquisition, pp. 4168. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bock, J. K. (1995). Producing agreement. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 4 (2), 5661.
Bock, J. K., Carreiras, M. & Meseguer, E. (2009). Number meaning and number agreement in English and Spanish. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Bock, J. K., Eberhard, K. M., Cutting, J. C., Meyer, A. S. & Schriefers, H. (2001). Some attractions of verb agreement. Cognitive Psychology, 43 (2), 83128.
Bock, J. K. & Miller, C. A. (1991). Broken agreement. Cognitive Psychology, 23 (1), 4593.
Clahsen, H. (1990). The comparative study of first and second language development. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 12 (2), 135153.
Clahsen, H. & Felser, C. (2006). Grammatical processing in language learners. Applied Psycholinguistics, 27 (1), 342.
Clahsen, H. & Muysken, P. (1989). The UG paradox in L2 acquisition. Second Language Research, 5 (1), 129.
DeKeyser, R. (2003). Implicit and explicit learning. In Doughty, C. J. & Long, M. H. (eds.), The handbook of second language acquisition, pp. 313348. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Dekydtspotter, L., Kim, B., Kim, H-j., Wang, Y-T., Kim, H-K. & Lee, J. K. (2008). Intermediate traces and anaphora resolution in the processing of English as a second language. In Chan, H., Jacob, H. & Kapia, E. (eds.), Proceedings of the 32nd annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, vol. 1, pp. 8495. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
Deutsch, A. & Dank, M. (2009). Conflicting cues and competition between notional and grammatical factors in producing number and gender agreement: Evidence from Hebrew. Journal of Memory and Language, 60 (1), 114143.
Eberhard, K. M. (1997). The marked effect of number on subject–verb agreement. Journal of Memory and Language, 36 (2), 147164.
Eberhard, K. M. (1999). The accessibility of conceptual number to the processes of subject–verb agreement in English. Journal of Memory and Language, 41 (4), 560578.
Eberhard, K. M., Cutting, J. C. & Bock, J. K. (2005). Making syntax of sense: Number agreement in sentence production. Psychological Review, 112 (3), 531559.
Eubank, L. (1994). Optionality and the initial state in L2 development. In Hoekstra, T. & Schwartz, B. (eds.), Language acquisition studies in generative grammar, pp. 369388. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Fayol, M., Largy, P. & Lemaire, P. (1994). Cognitive overload and orthographic errors: When cognitive overload enhances subject–verb agreement errors. A study in French written language. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 47A (2), 437464.
Foote, R. & Bock, J. K. (2009). The role of morphology in subject–verb number agreement: A comparison of Mexican and Dominican Spanish. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Guillelmon, D. & Grosjean, F. (2001). The gender marking effect in spoken word recognition: The case of bilinguals. Memory & Cognition, 29 (3), 503511.
Hartsuiker, R. J. & Barkhuysen, P. N. (2006). Language production and working memory: The case of subject–verb agreement. Language and Cognitive Processes, 21 (1–3), 181204.
Hartsuiker, R. J., Kolk, H. & Huinck, W. (1999). Agrammatic production of subject–verb agreement: The effect of conceptual number. Brain and Language, 69 (2), 119160.
Hartsuiker, R. J., Schriefers, H. J., Bock, J. K. & Kikstra, G. M. (2003). Morphophonological influences on the construction of subject–verb agreement. Memory & Cognition, 31 (8), 13161326.
Hawkins, R. & Chan, C. Y. (1997). The partial availability of Universal Grammar in second language acquisition: The “Failed Functional Features Hypothesis”. Second Language Research, 13 (3), 187226.
Ioup, G., Boustagui, E., El Tigi, M. & Moselle, M. (1994). Reexamining the critical period hypothesis: A case study of successful adult SLA in a naturalistic environment. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 16 (1), 7398.
Jiang, N. (2004). Morphological insensitivity in second language processing. Applied Psycholinguistics, 25 (4), 603634.
Lipski, J. (1993). Creoloid phenomena in the Spanish of transitional bilinguals. In Roca, A. & Lipski, J. (eds.), Spanish in the United States, pp. 155173. Berlin: Mouton.
Lorimor, H., Bock, J. K., Zalkind, E., Sheyman, A. & Beard, R. (2008). Agreement and attraction in Russian. Language and Cognitive Processes, 23 (6), 769799.
McCarthy, C. (2008). Morphological variability in the comprehension of agreement: An argument for representation over computation. Second Language Research, 24 (4), 459486.
McDonald, J. L. (2000). Grammaticality judgments in a second language: Influences of age of acquisition and native language. Applied Psycholinguistics, 21 (3), 395423.
McDonald, J. L. (2006). Beyond the critical period: Processing-based explanations for poor grammaticality judgment performance by late second language learners. Journal of Memory and Language, 55 (3), 381401.
Meisel, J. (1990). Grammatical development in the simultaneous acquisition of two languages. In Meisel, J. (ed.), Two first languages: Early grammatical development in bilingual children, pp. 89130. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Meisel, J. (1997). The L2 basic variety as an I-language. Second Language Research, 13 (4), 374385.
Meisel, J. (2004). The bilingual child. In Bhatia, T. K., & Ritchie, W. C. (eds.), The handbook of bilingualism, pp. 91113. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Montrul, S. (2002). Incomplete acquisition and attrition of Spanish tense/aspect distinctions in adult bilinguals. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 5 (1), 3968.
Montrul, S. (2004). Convergent outcomes in second language acquisition and first language loss. In Schmid, M., Köpke, B., Keijzer, M. & Weilemar, L. (eds.), First language attrition: Interdisciplinary perspectives on methodological issues, pp. 259280. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Montrul, S. (2006). On the bilingual competence of Spanish heritage speakers: Syntax, lexical-semantics and processing. International Journal of Bilingualism, 10 (1), 3769.
Montrul, S. (2008). Incomplete acquisition in bilingualism: Re-examining the age factor. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Montrul, S., Foote, R. & Perpiñán, S. (2008). Gender agreement in adult second language learners and Spanish heritage speakers: The effects of age and context of acquisition. Language Learning, 58 (3), 503553.
Nicol, J. & Greth, D. (2003). Production of subject–verb agreement in Spanish as a second language. Experimental Psychology, 50 (3), 196203.
Nicol, J., Teller, M. & Greth, D. (2001). The production of verb agreement in monolingual, bilingual, and second language speakers. In Nicol, J. L. (ed.), One mind, two languages: Bilingual language processing, pp. 117133. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Paradis, M. (2004). A neurolinguistic theory of bilingualism. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Polinsky, M. (2008). Gender under incomplete acquisition: Heritage speakers’ knowledge of noun categorization. The Heritage Language Journal, 6 (1).
Schwartz, B. & Sprouse, R. (1996). L2 cognitive states and the full transfer/full access hypothesis. Second Language Research, 12 (1), 4072.
Toribio, A. J. (2000). Setting parametric limits on dialectal variation in Spanish. Lingua, 110 (5), 315341.
Ullman, M. (2001). The neural basis of lexicon and grammar in first and second language: The declarative/procedural model. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 4 (2), 105122.
Valdés, G. (2005). Bilingualism, heritage language learners, and SLA research: Opportunities lost or seized? Modern Language Journal, 89 (3), 410426.
Vigliocco, G., Butterworth, B. & Garrett, M. F. (1996). Subject–verb agreement in Spanish and English: Differences in the role of conceptual constraints. Cognition, 61 (3), 261298.
Vigliocco, G., Butterworth, B. & Semenza, C. (1995). Constructing subject–verb agreement in speech: The role of semantic and morphological factors. Journal of Memory and Language, 34 (2), 186215.
Vigliocco, G., Hartsuiker, R. J., Jarema, G. & Kolk, H. H. J. (1996). One or more labels on the bottles? Notional concord in Dutch and French. Language and Cognitive Processes, 11 (4), 407442.
White, L. & Genesee, F. (1996). How native is near-native? The issue of ultimate attainment in adult second language acquisition. Second Language Research, 12 (3), 233265.
White, L., Valenzuela, E., Kozlowska-Macgregor, M. & Leung, Y.-K. I. (2004). Gender and number agreement in nonnative Spanish. Applied Psycholinguistics, 25 (1), 105133.

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed