Relative clauses in English-Mandarin bilingual children: Language transfer and development in Singapore

Jing YAN, Stephen MATTHEWS

Research output: Contribution to journalArticles

Abstract

The role of cross-linguistic influence in bilingual children’s development remains a matter of debate. Some researchers have proposed that simultaneous bilingual learners develop the linguistic systems of two languages in the same way as matched monolingual children do. Other researchers have argued that bilingual children show different developmental pathways. This study investigates cross-linguistic influence in the acquisition of relative clauses by English-Mandarin bilingual children in Singapore. The elicitation task included narration and interview tasks. Thirty-six primary school students aged 6 to 11 years completed the task in both English and Mandarin. The results reveal that the number of relative clauses increased with age in both languages. Participants had a preference for subject relatives over object relatives. The most frequent error type in Mandarin involves postnominal relative clauses, which have not been reported in monolingual children in the literature and thus can be treated as evidence of transfer from English. The findings of this study provide evidence for cross-linguistic influence in bilingual children’s speech. Copyright © 2017 John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
JournalChinese Language and Discourse
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017

Citation

Yan, J., & Matthews, S. (2017). Relative clauses in English-Mandarin bilingual children: Language transfer and development in Singapore. Chinese Language and Discourse, 8(1), 1-17. doi: 10.1075/cld.8.1.01yan

Keywords

  • Bilingual children
  • Cross-linguistic influence
  • Relative clause
  • Singapore
  • 雙語兒童
  • 定語從句
  • 新加坡
  • 跨語際影響

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