Who is a bilingual?
A continuum
Bilingual experience
Simultaneous bilingual children
Simultaneous bilingual LA
Unitary language system?
A unitary language system would predict:
Counter-evidence (vocab)
Counter-evidence (syntax)
Differentiated language systems?
Genesee et al. 1995
Inhibition theory
Have you learned anything new?
Категория: ЛингвистикаЛингвистика


1. Bilingualism

Alina A. Maslova

2. Contents

Who is a bilingual?
Simultaneous bilingual LA
One or two systems?
Inhibition theory
Brain benefits of


”Some people are born bilingual, some aspire to
bilingualism, and others have bilingualism thrust
upon them later in life”
(Bialystok, Craik, Green & Gollan, 2009).

4. Who is a bilingual?

• Being native-like
in 2 languages?
• Being fluent in 2
• Can speak and
understand 2
• From birth?
• Equal mastery?

5. A continuum

While many people might define a bilingual as a person who can
speak two languages with native-like fluency, this ‘gold standard’ is
often unreasonable and unattainable. Bilingualism exists on a
continuum, where a speaker has varying levels of linguistic
proficiency in a first language and a second language.

6. Bilingual experience

• Immigration
• The family speaks a heritage language
• Parents speak different languages
• Family history
• Formal education in L2 (bilingual schools)
• L2 as a foreign language at school
• Temporary residence
• Political / historical reasons

7. Simultaneous bilingual children

• Are exposed to 2 languages from birth in their
• Still have a dominant language
• Majority/minority language?
Research is contradictory:
“1 month old – already sequential”
“only at 3 years old does a child become sequential, not

8. Simultaneous bilingual LA

• Infants can detect the contrasts that define the
phonological system for all human languages almost
from birth (/pa/ vs. /ba/) (Eimas, Sequeland, Jusczyk &
Vigorito, 1971).
• If the contrast is not heard in the environment (/l/ vs.
/r/ in Japanese) the ability begins to decline at about 6
m.o. (Werker & Tees, 1984)
• Develop a full phonological system at 14 m.o. (same as


• Vocabulary
• The child’s first word appears at 1 y.o. regardless of
how many languages are spoken in the environment
(Pearson, Fernandez & Oller, 1993) and whether they
are both verbal or one of them is signed (Pettito et al.,
• The RATE and the STRATEGIES of VA are
• E.g. the mutual exclusivity constraint is weaker in
bilinguals and even weaker in multilinguals (ByersHeinlein & Werker, 2009).


• Vocabulary
• By 1.5 y.o. the monolinguals’ and bilinguals’ vocab
size is similar (appx. 50 w), but bilinguals know
significantly fewer words in each on the 2 languages
• Difficulties?
• Do childish sounds count as words if they have
consistent meaning? / do we count proper names in
both languages? / cognates?
• 3-10 y.o.: bilinguals have smaller receptive vocab in
(L2-Eng) associated with their homes than
monolinguals (L1-Eng) (as opposed to “school”
vocab) (Bialystok, Luk , Peets & Yang, 2010)



• Grammar
• First word combinations – 1.5 y.o. in both bilinguals
and monolinguals (Pearson et al., 1993)
Linguistic knowledge for bilingual children is divided between 2
languages, therefore the richness of the representational system is
different from that of a monolingual speaker. Similarities in
developing cognitive abilities keep the process of language
acquisition on a common time course

13. Unitary language system?

• Language mixing during the early
stages of bilingual development has
been interpreted in general terms as
evidence of a unitary language system
with undifferentiated phonological,
lexical and syntactic subsystems’
(Genesee, 1989, p.165)
• The evidence for this includes isolated
examples of language mixing in
utterances addressed to the child's
German-speaking mother (Volterra &
Taeschner, 1978)

14. A unitary language system would predict:

• Lack of equivalents at the first stages (Volterra &
Taeschner, 1978)
• Language mixing regardless of the context
• Bilingual early language is significantly different from
monolingual early language
• Slower development as languages are not separate
from the beginning

15. Counter-evidence (vocab)

• Nicoladis & Secco (2000), Nicoladis & Genesee
(1996) – show translation equivalents at early stages
• Pearson, Fernandez & Oller (1995)
- 30% of bilingual toddlers’ vocabularies = language
Why only 30%?
Because children do not
duplicate every experience in 2
languages at the same time

16. Counter-evidence (syntax)

• Paradis, Nicoladis & Genesee (2000)
French/English bilinguals(N=15; 2.5-3 y.o.)
French: Le bebe ne boit pas le lait
English: The baby is not drinking the milk
No stage of mixing the rules


• ‘In order to uphold the unitary-system hypothesis one
would need to establish that, all things being equal,
bilingual children use items from both languages
indiscriminately in all contexts of communication. In
other words, there should be no differential
distribution of items from the two languages as a
function of the predominant language being used in
different contexts. (p.165)

18. Differentiated language systems?

• Mixing can occur because:
• the language system in use at the moment is
incomplete and does not include the grammatical
device needed to express certain meanings
• the grammatical device required to express the
intended meaning is available in the language
currently in use, but it is more complex than the
corresponding device in the other language system
and its use strains the child's current ability.


• We need evidence that the children use items from
their two languages differentially as a function of
• if the differentiated-language systems hypothesis were
true, one would expect to find more frequent use of
items from the weaker language in contexts where
that language is being used than in contexts where the
stronger language is being used, even though items
from the stronger language might predominate in
both contexts.

20. Genesee et al. 1995

Why only 5?
• Language differentiation in five bilingual children
prior to the emergence of functional categories
• They were observed with each parent separately and
both together, on separate occasions.
• Results indicate that while these children did code
mix, they were clearly able to differentiate between
their two languages.

21. Inhibition theory

• Both languages of a bilingual are activated even in
contexts that strongly bias towards only one of them
(Kroll & de Groot, 1997; Grainger, 1993; Guttentag,
Haith, Goodman & Hauch, 1984)
Press when
you see the
Press when
you see the
red square


congruent case
Press when
you see the
Press when
you see the
red square
incongruent case
Press when
you see the
Press when
you see the
red square


When the case is incongruent, a person
tends to think longer -> the Simon effect
Press when
you see the
Press when
you see the
red square


The Simon effect is
larger monolinguals
Press when
you see the
Press when
you see the
red square
Because bilinguals have an advantage in
inhibitory control (true for children and adults)



27. Code-switching

Do you code-switch?
occurs when a speaker alternates between two or
more languages, or language varieties, in the context
of a single conversation.
• To compensate for the lack of language proficiency
• A problem of retrieval (related to frequency)
• To be better understood

28. Summary

• No evidence to suggest that infants can/should learn
only one language
• Simultaneous bilinguals go through the same stages at
approximately the same age as monolinguals
• Bilingual children seem to have 2 language systems
• Code-switching is expected
• Bilinguals tend to have smaller vocab in one given
language than monolinguals even though in total their
vocab is bigger

29. Have you learned anything new?

30. References

• Bialystok E, Craik FIM, Green DW, Gollan TH. (2009). Bilingual minds. Psychological
Science in the Public Interest, 10, 89–129. doi: 10.1177/1529100610387084.
• Bialystok, E., Luk, G., Peets, K. F., & Yang, S. (2010). Receptive vocabulary differences in
monolingual and bilingual children. Bilingualism (Cambridge, England), 13(4), 525–531.
• Byers-Heinlein, K., & Werker, J. F. (2009). Monolingual, bilingual, trilingual: Infants’
language experience influences the development of a word learning heuristic.
Developmental Science, 12 (5), 815–823.
• Eimas, P. D., Siqueland, E. R., Jusczyk, P., & Vigorito, J. (1971). Speech perception in
infants. Science, 171(3968), p. 303-306.
• Pearson BZ, Fernández SC, Oller DK. (1993). Lexical development in bilingual infants
and toddlers: Comparison to monolingual norms. Language Learning, 43:93–120.
• Petitto LA, Katerelos M, Levy B, Gauna K, Tétrault K, Ferraro V. (2001). Bilingual
signed and spoken language acquisition from birth: Implications for mechanisms
underlying bilingual language acquisition. Journal of Child Language, 28:1–44.
• Werker, J. F., & Tees, R. C. (1984). Cross-language speech perception: Evidence for
perceptual reorganization during the first year of life, Infant Behavior and Development, 4963.
English     Русский Правила