Linguistics Colloquium: Natalia Meir

24/01/2017 - 14:00 - 15:30

Natalia Meir, Bar Ilan University

Title: Acquisition of Russian accusative case in monolingual and bilingual children

Monolingual Russian-speaking children are reported to acquire the basics of the case system before the age of three (e.g., Babyonyshev, 1993; Cejtlin, 2009; Protassova 1997). Yet, studies exploring case production in bilingual children point at incomplete acquisition / attrition of case (e.g., Gagarina, 2011; Peeters-Podgaevskaja, 2008; Turian & Altenberg, 1991; Schwartz & Minkov, 2014).

Two studies comparing accusative case in bilingual children who acquire Russian as a Heritage language will be reported. Mastery of accusative case is evaluated across different tasks (Sentence Repetition, elicited production, and on-line comprehension)

Study 1 (Meir, Walters, & Armon-Lotem, 2016) investigated the use of Russian accusative case in 110 Russian-Hebrew bilingual children aged 5;5-6;5 with varying ages of L2-Hebrew onset (0-60 months) and 20 Russian-speaking monolinguals using a Sentence Repetition task.

Study 2 (Janssen & Meir, in preparation) explored production and comprehension of Russian accusative case in two groups of bilingual children (Russian-Dutch and Russian-Hebrew) and two groups of Russian-speaking monolinguals (aged-matched and younger).

The results confirm that monolingual children master accusative case morphology as early as the age of 4. By contrast, the findings point at problems with accusative case in bilingual children who acquire Russian as their Heritage Language in combination with a sparse case language (here Hebrew and Dutch). The results show that problems with case morphology in bilinguals are not limited to production. Finally, accusative case mastery in bilinguals is found to be associated with the period of uninterrupted acquisition of Russian. Findings are discussed in light of the Feature Re-assembly Hypothesis (Lardiere, 2007).

 

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