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Multilingualism research group, seminar 5

When Oct 22, 2015
from 01:00 PM to 02:30 PM
Where GR05, English Faculty
Contact Name
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Speakers: Dr Henriëtte Hendriks and Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli (Dept. of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics)

On the properties of micro- and macro-structure of narratives: does bilingualism help?

Ianthi Maria Tsimpl

Narrative production requires the integration and planning of linguistic, cognitive and discourse resources and, as such, it is a demanding task. Narrative performance can be examined in terms of lexical and morphosyntactic properties (the microstructure level) as well as in terms of story structure and coherence, and the use of ‘internal state terms’ which are related to Theory of Mind categories (‘IST’ +ToM) and those related to predicates expressing perceptual and physiological predicated (‘IST’ –ToM). Usually, bilinguals are shown to lag behind language abilities compared to monolinguals, particularly with respect to vocabulary and grammar. It is possible, however, that properties of narratives which require contextual integration and coherence might show no or limited differences between bilingual and monolingual children due to the proposed ‘bilingual advantage’ on executive control functions. I will discuss two sets of data from bilingual children who appear to show a dissociation between micro- and macrostructure properties in narratives as well as an asymmetrical pattern when compared with monolingual age peers. 

Cross-linguistic influences in the child versus the adult bilingual: evidence from motion expressions

Dr Henriëtte Hendriks

Research on adult second language acquisition often focusses on those linguistic expressions that are non-target-like, and often asks the question if this type of learner is capable of becoming more like a so-called “native speaker”, or if (s)he will always be hampered by the first language and or the age of onset of acquisition. Similarly, there is a further assumption that the language of child simultaneous bilinguals will not show such non target-like expressions. In this paper, I will present some data addressing the above issue, by comparing child bilingual and adult L2 learner expressions of motion events. 

Participants were presented with short video clips showing caused motion events, and were asked to tell a naïve listener “what happened”? It will be shown that both child bilinguals and adult learners use some non-target-like expressions, even though the frequency of cross-linguistic influence of this type is higher in the adult learners than in the child bilinguals. The bilingual data will also be compared to child and adult native speaker data, to indicate that in our increasingly multi-lingual world (and our awareness of it) distinctions between traditional categories as native speaker – simultaneous bilingual – L2 learner are perhaps less clear-cut than previously proposed. 

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