"De jongen heeft hem geverfd." "Heeft wie geverfd?" Cross-linguistic influence and the pronoun interpretation problem in French-Dutch bilingual children
MetadataShow full item record
A considerable amount of literature showed that the interpretation of pronouns in sentences like Mary washed her (simple case (SC) sentences) and The girl sees her dance (exceptional case marking (ECM) sentences) is problematic in some languages, for example in Dutch, but not in others, for example in French (e.g. McKee 1992, Hamann, Kowalski and Philips 1997, Baauw 2000). This is called the Pronoun Interpretation Problem (PIP). Cross-linguistic influence (CLI), has also been object of research in the past decades. There is not much consensus yet on the precise conditions predicting CLI. However, Hulk and Müller (2000 and 2001) hypothesized that structural ambiguity may be such a predicting factor. In this study we examined if CLI occurs in the interpretation of Dutch and French SC and ECM sentences by Dutch-French bilingual children, and if so, if language dominance play a role in this case, in order to answer the question if the PIP is less problematic when French and Dutch are acquired simultaneously. 31 bilingual Dutch-French children, 16 living in France, 15 in the Netherlands, participated in a Truth Value Judgment Task, their parents filled in a questionnaire about the amount of input. The results showed CLI in French SC sentences, causing a delay in French for the Dutch dominant participants and in Dutch ECM sentences, causing an acceleration, and thus a less problematic PIP, in Dutch, but language dominance did not play a role here. For the Dutch SC and French ECM sentences no CLI was found, although influence by language dominance was found for the latter. The findings of the current study possibly suggests that the theory of Müller and Hulk (2000) and Hulk and Müller (2001) might be revised.