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Early child L2 acquisition: Age or input effects? Neither, or both?*

  • SHARON UNSWORTH (a1)

Abstract

This paper explores whether there is evidence for age and/or input effects in child L2 acquisition across three different linguistic domains, namely morphosyntax, vocabulary, and syntax–semantics. More specifically, it compares data from English-speaking children whose age of onset to L2 Dutch was between one and three years with data from children whose age of onset was between four and seven years in their acquisition of verb morphology, verb placement, vocabulary, and direct object scrambling. The main findings were that there were no significant differences between the two groups in any of these areas and, with the exception of scrambling, current amount of exposure was the only factor significantly related to children's scores. The paper discusses the theoretical significance of these findings with respect to the role of input in the language acquisition process and the claim that there is a critical period ending within (early) childhood.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Address for correspondence:Radboud University Nijmegen, Postbus 9103 Nijmegen 6500HD, Netherlands. e-mail: s.unsworth@let.ru.nl

Footnotes

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[*]

Earlier versions of this paper were presented at EUROSLA 24 at York University, at BUCLD 39, and at Mannheim University. I would like to thank audiences at all three for their useful comments, and in particular Holger Hopp and Jason Rothman. Thanks to two anonymous reviewers and the editors for their constructive feedback. Finally, thanks to all participating children, families, and schools, as well as the research assistants involved in data collection.

Footnotes

References

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