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Two Grammars in the Input: Two Different Strategies to Process the Input. The Usage-Based Perspective on the Development of Nominal Inflections in a Bilingual Child

  • Dorota Gaskins
Chapter
Part of the Multilingual Education book series (MULT, volume 26)

Abstract

Can early grammatical acquisition across languages be accounted for by one set of predictions about the grammatical patterns heard? This study examines the extent to which Radical Construction Grammar (Croft. Radical construction grammar. Syntactic theory in typological perspective. OUP, Oxford, 2001) and its central tenet, input frequency, can account for the emergence of grammar in the acquisition of Polish and English, two languages which offer typologically different stimuli for the child to work from. The study looks at the onset of grammatical acquisition in a bilingual toddler (aged 1;10.16-2;5.11) exposed to Polish and English from birth but dominant in the latter, examined through 30 half-hour recordings and a diary. The data reveal different effects of input on the acquisition paths in each language and variance in these effects depending on the stage of development. First of all, the order of acquisition of case markings attempted by the child corresponds with the proportions of these markings heard in the input in English but only to a limited degree in Polish. However, the early emergence of the Polish –i marking can be explained in terms of its analogy to existing exemplars and its potential to cover multiple grammatical contexts. Lastly, it is suggested that the infrequent use of Polish language is responsible for what appears to be ‘regression in acquisition’ of the Polish plural/case marking system. These data call for a more dynamic understanding of frequency as a factor facilitating acquisition.

Keywords

Usage-based Input Frequency Analogy Nominal inflection Bilingual acquisition 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dorota Gaskins
    • 1
  1. 1.Birkbeck CollegeUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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