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The pronoun interpretation problem in bilingual Dutch-German children

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  • UserPetra Hendriks (University of Groningen)
  • ClockThursday 29 October 2020, 16:30-18:00
  • HouseOnline.

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Dutch-speaking children, like English-speaking children, make mistakes in their interpretation of pronouns until age 7 (English: e.g., Wexler & Chien, 1985; Chien & Wexler, 1990; Grimshaw & Rosen, 1990. Dutch: e.g., Philip & Coopmans, 1996; Spenader, Smits & Hendriks, 2009; van Rij, van Rijn, & Hendriks, 2010). This pattern is known as the Delay of Principle B Effect, or Pronoun Interpretation Problem. In contrast to English and Dutch-speaking children, children acquiring German already interpret pronouns correctly from age 4 (Ruigendijk et al, 2010). This cross-linguistic difference is not yet fully understood. In collaborative work with Esther Ruigendijk (University of Oldenburg), the question is addressed what happens if a bilingual child acquires a language showing the Pronoun Interpretation Problem (Dutch) and a language that does not show the Pronoun Interpretation Problem (German). Bilingual Dutch-German children were tested on pronoun interpretation in both languages (n=21, age range 3;5-6;11, mean age 5;4). In this talk I will present the results of this study and discuss the implications for linguistic theory and for monolingual and bilingual language acquisition.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Linguistics Forum series.

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