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Abstract

In an increasingly multicultural society, understanding the process of multilingual acquisition is essential to building positive language ideologies. The overall linguistic goal of this study is to model how the natural acquisition of language(s) leads to the creation of multiple mental Grammars in multilingual children. In particular, we want to look at how the first language (L1) affects the subsequent acquisition of English within the natural acquisition window (open until adolescence). Park’s (2011) Person Feature Auxiliary Movement (PFAM) Hypothesis claims that non-target productions of Auxiliary Inversion in questions for Korean-English bilingual children are the result of the ongoing stage-driven acquisition process of the person feature and the particular Spell-Out conditions of the C-head in clausal structure. In this article, spontaneous speech of Mandarin-English and Spanish-English bilingual children was collected from eight participants clustered around two age groups (7–9 years and 11–14 years), after a 10-month exposure to English. This data was transcribed, and the wh- and yes-no question productions were coded for analysis. Of the questions produced, 85.7% were target. The remaining non-target 14.3% represented cases of the parameterization of extraneous operations stemming from the home-L1. Spanish-English presented T/V-doubling phenomena absent in Mandarin-English, while both groups show spurious DO in C. Human brains have the power to create multiple Grammars, simultaneously or sequentially. This research supports the hypothesis that the L1 does indeed mediate the sequential acquisition of a second Grammar, but does not impede it. More research is needed to fully characterize the intermediate stages preceding the final attainment of the target-state in the creation of subsequent Grammars.

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