Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

The effect of age on language attrition: Evidence from bilingual returnees

  • Cristina Flores (a1)

Abstract

The present study investigates the syntactic competence of bilingual Portuguese–German returnees who have lost regular contact with their L2 (German). The main criterion which distinguishes the participants is the age of input loss. This allows their division into two main groups: speakers who lost German input during early childhood (between ages seven and ten) and speakers who were eleven or older when they moved away from the German environment. Focusing on verb placement in main and embedded clauses, the available data show strong evidence of the existence of a stabilization phase following the acquisition period. The speakers who lost L2 input earlier than age eleven show significantly more syntactic deficits than the other speakers. However, the observed attrition effects seem to be the result of insufficient L2 activation, rather than the expression of undergoing competence loss.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Departamento de Estudos Germanísticos e Eslavos, Instituto de Letras e Ciências Humanas, Universidade do Minho, Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057 Braga, Portugalcflores@ilch.uminho.pt

Footnotes

Hide All
*

I would like to thank Pilar Barbosa, Jürgen Meisel and Erwin Koller for their insightful comments on my research. My thanks also go to FCT, the Portuguese Council for Research, which supported the study (grant POCI/LIN/59780/2004). I am also indebted to Andreia Rauber for advice on statistics and to the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.

Footnotes

References

Hide All
de Bot, K., Gommans, P., & Rossing, C. (1991). L1 loss in an L2 environment: Dutch immigrants in France. In Seliger, H. W. & Vago, R. M. (eds.), First language attrition, pp. 8798. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511620720.006
Bylund, E. (2009). Maturational constraints and first language attrition. Language Learning, 59 (3), 687715.10.1111/j.1467-9922.2009.00521.x
Bylund, E., Abrahamsson, N., & Hyltenstam, K. (in press). The role of language aptitude in first language attrition: The case of prepubescent attriters. Applied Linguistics.
Clahsen, H. (1990). Constraints on parameter setting. A grammatical analysis of some acquisition stages in German child language. Language Acquisition, 1, 361391.10.1207/s15327817la0104_3
Clahsen, H., & Muysken, P. (1986). The availability of universal grammar to adult and child learners – a study of the acquisition of German word order. Second Language Research, 2 (2), 93119.
Clahsen, H., Weyerts, H., Penke, M., Münte, T. F., & Heinze, H.-J. (2002). Word order in sentence processing: An experimental study of verb placement in German. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 31, 223280.
Green, D. W. (1986). Control, activation and resource: A framework and a model for the control of speech in bilinguals. Brain and Language, 27, 210223.10.1016/0093-934X(86)90016-7
Gürel, A. (2004). Selectivity in L2-induced L1 attrition: A psycholinguistic account. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 17 (1), 5378.10.1016/S0911-6044(03)00054-X
Håkansson, G. (1995). Syntax and morphology in language attrition: A study of five bilingual expatriate Swedes. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 5 (2), 153171.10.1111/j.1473-4192.1995.tb00078.x
Håkansson, G., & Nettelbladt, U. (1993). Developmental sequences in L1 (normal and impaired) and L2 acquisition of Swedish. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 3, 131157.10.1111/j.1473-4192.1993.tb00047.x
Hakuta, K., & d'Andrea, D. (1992). Some properties of bilingual maintenance and loss in Mexican background high-school students. Applied Linguistics, 13 (1), 7299.
Hyltenstam, K., & Abrahamsson, N. (2003). Maturational constraints in second language acquisition. In Doughty, C. & Long, M. (eds.), Handbook of second language acquisition, pp. 539588. Oxford: Blackwell.
Kaufman, D. (2001). Tales of L1 attrition – evidence from pre-puberty children. In Ammerlan, T., Hulsen, M., Strating, H. & Yamur, K. (eds.), Sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic perspectives on maintenance and loss of minority languages, pp. 185202. Münster: Waxmann.
Kaufman, D., & Aronoff, M. (1991). Morphological disintegration and reconstruction in first language attrition. In Seliger, H. W. & Vago, R. M. (eds.), First language attrition, pp. 175188. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511620720.012
Köpke, B. (2004). Neurolinguistic aspects of attrition. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 17 (1), 330.10.1016/S0911-6044(03)00051-4
Köpke, B., & Schmid, M. (2004). Language attrition: The next phase. In Schmid, M., Köpke, B., Keijzer, M. & Weilemar, L. (eds.), First language attrition: Interdisciplinary perspectives on methodological issues, pp. 147. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Kuhberg, H. (1992). Longitudinal L2-attrition versus L2-acquisition, in three Turkish children – empirical findings. Second Language Research, 8 (2), 138154.
Meisel, J. M. (2007) Child second language acquisition or successive first language acquisition? Arbeiten zur Mehrsprachigkeit. Working Papers in Multilingualism. Folge B, 80, 3364.
Montrul, S. (2004). Subject and object expression in Spanish heritage speakers: A case of morpho-syntactic convergence, Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 7 (2), 125142.10.1017/S1366728904001464
Pallier, C., Dehaene, S., Poline, J.-B., LeBihan, D., Argenti, A.-M., Dupoux, E., & Mehler, J. (2003). Brain imaging of language plasticity in adopted adults: Can a second language replace the first? Cerebral Cortex, 13, 155161.10.1093/cercor/13.2.155
Paradis, M. (2004). A neurolinguistic theory of bilingualism. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins.10.1075/sibil.18
Paradis, M. (2007). L1 attrition features predicted by a neurolinguistic theory of bilingualism. In Köpke, B., Schmid, M., Keijzer, M. & Dosert, S. (eds.), Language attrition. Theoretical perspectives, pp. 121133. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/sibil.33.09par
Platzack, C. (1996). The initial hypothesis of syntax: A minimalist perspective on language acquisition and attrition. In Clahsen, H. (ed.), Generative perspectives on language acquisition, pp. 369414. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/lald.14.15pla
Rothweiler, M. (2006). The acquisition of V2 and subordinate clauses in early successive acquisition of German. In Lleó, C. (ed.), Interfaces in multilingualism, pp. 91113. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/hsm.4.05rot
Schmid, M. (2002). First language attrition, use, and maintenance. The case of German Jews in anglophone countries. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/sibil.24
Seliger, H. W. (1989). Deterioration and creativity in childhood bilingualism. In Hylstenstam, K. & Obler, L. K. (eds.), Bilingualism across the lifespan, pp. 173184. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511611780.011
Sorace, A. (2004). Native language attrition and developmental instability at the syntax–discourse interface: Data, interpretations and methods. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 7 (2), 143145.10.1017/S1366728904001543
Thoma, D., & Tracy, R. (2006). Deutsch als frühe Zweitsprache: zweite Erstsprache? In Ahrenholz, B. (ed.), Kinder mit Migrationshintergrund. Spracherwerb und Förder-möglichkeiten, pp. 5879. Freiburg: Fillbach.
Tomiyama, M. (2000). Child second language attrition: A longitudinal case study. Applied Linguistics, 21 (3), 304332.10.1093/applin/21.3.304
Tsimpli, I., Sorace, A., Heycock, C., & Filiaci, F. (2004). First language attrition and syntactic subjects: A study of Greek and Italian near-native speakers of English, International Journal of Bilingualism, 8 (3), 257277.10.1177/13670069040080030601
Ventureyra, V., & Pallier, C. (2004). In search of the lost language: The case of adopted Koreans in France. In Schmid, M., Köpke, B., Keijzer, M. & Weilemar, L. (eds.), First language attrition: Interdisciplinary perspectives on methodological issues, pp. 207221. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/sibil.28.12ven

Keywords

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

The effect of age on language attrition: Evidence from bilingual returnees

  • Cristina Flores (a1)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

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.