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Effects of Bilingualism on Morphosyntactic Development in Children: A Corpus Study

Jasmine Hoi Ching Ng,[1] Department of Linguistics, University of Hong Kong

Abstract

The study of simultaneous acquisition of two languages in early childhood offers an opportunity to verify and shed some light on language acquisition theories, as bilingual children may have different output systems of the languages from those of monolingual children. Two hypotheses, the autonomous development account and interdependent development account, have been proposed to account for bilingual people’s language development. The speech of a Cantonese-English boy was recorded bi-monthly from the ages of 2 years 2 months to 3 years 0 months (2;2-3;0). The analysis of mean length of utterance in morphemes (MLUm) and the acquisition pattern of the 14 grammatical morphemes in English (Brown, 1973: 274) indicates that the bilingual child had an above-average rate of morphosyntactic development. Furthermore, although differences between the acquisition order of the morphemes by the bilingual child and by the English monolinguals can be seen, there is inadequate evidence to argue that this is due to the bilingual child’s knowledge of another language, Cantonese. Altogether, the results seem to support the interdependent development account more.

Keywords: Bilingualism, language acquisition, morphosyntax, grammatical morphemes, Cantonese-English bilinguals.

Introduction

The way in which simultaneous bilingual children acquire the syntax of languages that differ typologically and syntactically and are not genetically related, such as Cantonese and English, is intriguing. One of the most prominent debates concerning the development of simultaneous bilinguals - those who were exposed to both languages regularly since birth - is the number of language systems established in these children’s minds. Two of the hypotheses put forward to explain this phenomenon, namely the autonomous development account and the interdependent development account, will be examined in this paper.

The autonomous development account suggested that the course and rate of acquisition, as well as the underlying linguistic representation of each language in a bilingual, is parallel to those of their monolingual counterparts (Paradis and Genesee, 1996: 2). It is believed that bilingual children develop two separate grammatical and syntactic systems from the beginning (De Houwer, 2005: 43; Meisel, 1989: 35-36). No interaction between the two languages in question is expected to occur throughout the language acquisition period. This account is supported by studies showing that bilinguals developed their languages in a similar manner and at a similar rate to their monolingual counterparts (De Houwer, 1990: 338-39; Paradis and Genesee, 1997: 117-20).

On the other hand, the interdependent development account indicated that language interdependence, ‘the systemic influence of the grammar of one language on the grammar of the other language during acquisition, causing differences in a bilingual’s patterns or rates of development in comparison with a monolingual’s’ (Paradis and Genesee, 1996: 3), takes place during bilinguals’ acquisition of the two languages. Accordingly, cross-linguistic influence or an accelerated or delayed rate of acquisition may happen. The interdependent development account is evidenced by research that showed that bilinguals lag slightly behind monolinguals in terms of their syntactic development accompanied by syntactic transfers (Döpke, 1998: 581-82; Hartsuiker et al., 2004: 412-13; Hulk and Müller, 2000: 230-31; Serratrice et al., 2004: 198-202; Yip and Matthews, 2000: 198-207, 2005: 2425-27, 2007a: 288-97). For instance, when a child is acquiring a language (e.g. Language A) which requires both the subject and object in the sentence, and another language (e.g. Language B) which allows subject or object drop, the syntactic feature of a null subject or object is transferred from Language B to A, as seen in Italian-English bilinguals (Serratrice et al., 2004: 198-202), a Dutch-French bilingual and a German-Italian bilingual (Hulk and Müller, 2000: 230-31). Studies also showed that for bilinguals acquiring languages that differ in word order, the utterances made by these children in one of the languages they speak are different from those produced by the monolinguals (Döpke, 1998: 576-81; Hartsuiker et al., 2004: 412-13; Yip and Matthews, 2000: 198-207).

Case study

To further testify which of the aforementioned accounts can better explain bilinguals’ language development, the current paper presents a case study on the acquisition of the 14 English grammatical morphemes by a Cantonese-English bilingual child, James (a pseudonym). To the author’s knowledge, this is the first study investigating the English morphosyntactic development of a Cantonese-English bilingual. It has been widely accepted that most children who acquire English as their first language appear to undergo syntactic development at a similar rate and acquire the grammatical morphemes in a similar sequential order (Brown, 1973: 274; Miller and Chapman, 1981: 157-60; Villiers and Villiers, 1973: 272-77). Whether or not the bilingual’s performance is comparable to his monolingual counterparts may be a pointer to the validity of the two accounts.

The development of only one of the languages (English) used by the bilingual child is examined in this paper. A comparison between the Cantonese morphosyntactic development of the bilingual with that of Cantonese monolinguals was not made, as a well-attested acquisition timeline of the grammatical morphemes in Cantonese is not yet available. Using the acquisition order of the 14 grammatical morphemes as the framework to compare the Cantonese data is also undesirable, because the Cantonese morphemes may not emerge in the same order as the ones from English.

The research questions are:

  1. Does Cantonese-English bilingualism affect the rate of morphosyntactic development in English? If so, does it accelerate or hinder the development?
  2. Does Cantonese-English bilingualism affect the manner in which the grammatical morphemes in English were acquired?
  3. Do the results from this case study support the autonomous or interdependent development account more?

The 14 grammatical morphemes

Miller and Chapman (1981: 157-60) found a correlation between age and the mean length of utterance in morphemes (MLUm), studying the data from 123 English monolingual children (see Table 1). MLUm is the average number of morphemes the child can produce in his utterances.

Age (within 1 month)

(year; month)

MLUm

1;6

1.31

1;9

1.62

2;0

1.92

2;6

2.54

2;9

2.85

3;0

3.16

3;3

3.47

3;6

3.78

3;9

4.09

4;0

4.40

4;3

4.71

4;6

5.02

4;9

5.32

5;0

5.63

Table 1: Mean length of utterance in morphemes (MLUm) by age (Miller and Chapman, 1981: 157-60).

To assess whether James had an accelerated, delayed or similar rate of morphosyntactic development in English, his data will be compared with the average of these 123 children.

Brown (1973: 56) proposed that English-speaking children’s early morphosyntactic development can be divided into five stages with reference to their MLUm. Generally, English monolingual children’s grammatical knowledge started to develop at Stage II, when they have an MLUm of 2.0-2.5 (Brown, 1973: 249). The original three subjects in Brown (1973: 274) acquired the 14 grammatical morphemes in a similar order. Table 2 shows the average acquisition order of the three subjects at different stages:

Stage

Mean of MLU (in morphemes)

Range of MLU (in morphemes)

Grammatical morphemes

I

1.75

1.0-2.0

Nil

II

2.25

2.0-2.5

1) Present progressive (-ing)




2) in




3) on




4) Regular plural (-s)

III

2.75

2.5-3.0

5) Irregular past tense




6) Possessive (’s)




7) Uncontractible copula

IV

3.5

3.0-3.75

8) Articles




9) Regular past tense (-ed)




10) Third person regular (-s)

V

4.0

3.75-4.5

11) Third person irregular




12) Uncontractible auxiliary




13) Contractible copula




14) Contractible auxiliary

Table 2: Brown’s stages and the order of acquisition of 14 grammatical morphemes (Brown, 1973).

Example sentences containing the 14 grammatical morphemes are as follows:

(1) I am going to school (present progressive)

(2) in a room (preposition in)

(3) on the table (preposition on)

(4) Please return the books (regular plural)

(5) I went home (irregular past tense)

(6) My sister’s friend is very tall (possessive ’s)

(7) This is a bus (uncontractible copula)

(8a) The car (definite article)

(8b) A book/ an apple (indefinite articles)

(9) I washed my clothes (regular past tense)

(10) He swims every day (third person regular)

(11) She does (third person irregular)

(12) Are they coming? (uncontractible auxiliary)

(13) She’s here (contractible copula)

(14) I’m coming home (contractible auxiliary)

The acquisition order of the grammatical morphemes by the original subjects will be used as a reference to compare with the data obtained from James.

Review on the interference effects of bilingualism on syntactic development in Cantonese-English bilinguals

Yip and Matthews carried out a series of studies to examine the language acquisition performance of three Cantonese-English bilinguals in terms of their syntactic development (Yip and Matthews, 2000: 198-201, 2005: 2425-27, 2007a: 288-97). Their findings indicated that there are interference effects between the two languages spoken by the children, as evidenced in three differences that can be observed between the utterances of these bilinguals and their monolingual equivalents: (i) the syntactic order of wh-interrogatives (Yip and Matthews, 2000: 198-201); (ii) null object (Yip and Matthews, 2005: 2425-27); (iii) the position of relative clauses (Yip and Matthews, 2007a: 288-97).

First of all, the placement of wh-interrogatives in different positions within the question is allowed in Cantonese syntax, while in English, wh-interrogatives can be used in the initial position only (Yip and Matthews, 2000: 195). Nonetheless, the wh-interrogatives of the bilingual children in English also occurred in positions other than the initial one (Yip and Matthews, 2000: 198-201).

Second, Cantonese adopts the null object policy, in which objects in sentences can be omitted if the object has already been mentioned previously in the discourse or can be understood from the context in which the utterance was made (Yip and Matthews, 2000: 195-96). For instance, ‘I like’ is a perfectly grammatical sentence in Cantonese, but not in English. Yet, objects of the verbs in English sentences produced by these children were sometimes omitted (Yip and Matthews, 2005: 2425-27).

Third, when forming relative clauses in Cantonese, the relative clause has to be placed in front of the noun it refers to (thus Cantonese possesses prenominal relatives), while the relative clause is positioned after the referred noun in English (English has postnominal relatives) (Yip and Matthews, 2000: 196). However, Yip and Matthews noticed that the bilinguals acquired object relatives first, then subject relatives in Cantonese, and prenominal relatives (based on Cantonese), then object relatives and finally subject relatives in English, which violates the norm that children acquire subject relatives first, then move on to object relatives (2007a: 288-97).

Taken together, the examples of the transfer of Cantonese syntactic features to English in these bilinguals provide evidence for the interdependent development account, since cross-linguistic influences are observed here.

Despite the investigation of various syntactic development of these bilinguals, their acquisition order of grammatical morphemes in English has not been analysed before. As a result, the current paper aims at evaluating the performance of a Cantonese-English bilingual boy in terms of his morphosyntactic development. Although previous analysis of James’s data also revealed that some Cantonese syntactic features were transferred to his English (Yip and Matthews, 2007b), his morphosyntactic development in English has not been investigated and compared with his monolingual counterparts.

Morphosyntactic features of Cantonese and English

This section outlines the differences and similarities of the morphology in Cantonese and English regarding the 14 grammatical morphemes to be examined in this case study.

First, additional free morphemes instead of inflectional morphemes are used in Cantonese to express some of the 14 grammatical features. English uses inflectional morphemes for the regular past tense (-ed) (9), present progressive (-ing) (1) and the possessive marker (’s) (6). To express this information in Cantonese, additional free morphemes have to be added to the utterance (15, 16, 17).

(15) ngo5 sai2 zo2 ngo5 di1 saam1

I wash PFV* my clothes

‘I washed my clothes’

* Perfective marker

(16) ngo5 faan1 gan2 hok6

I return EXP* school

‘I am going to school’

* Experiential marker

(17) ngo5 mui6 mui5 go3 pang4 jau5 hou2 gou1

my sister POS* friend very tall

‘My sister’s friend is very tall’

*Possessive marker

Secondly, some of the morphemes are not expressed in Cantonese. Specifically, Cantonese does not have any plural forms, third person singular or irregular verb forms, irregular past tense nor auxiliaries.

On the other hand, English and Cantonese share some common morphological features. Both English and Cantonese use free morphemes for the prepositions in (2, 18) and on (3, 19), and the uncontractible copula (verb ‘to-be’) (7, 20). The definite (8a, 21) and indefinite (8b, 22) articles are also found in both languages, though in Cantonese, the morpheme used as the indefinite article also means the number ‘one’. However, it should be noted that while copula can also be contractible in English (13), the same does not apply for Cantonese.

(18) hai2 gaan1 fong2 jap6 min6

in CL* room inside

in a room’

*classifier

(19) hai2 zoeng1 toi2 soeng6 min6

on CL table up side

on a table’

(20) ni1 go3 hai6 gaa3 baa1 si6

DEM* is CL bus

‘this is a bus’

*Demonstrative

(21) gaa3 ce1

CL car

‘the car’

(22) jat1 bun2 syu1

one CL book

a book’

If cross-linguistic influence occurs in this case, the hypothesised acquisition order of the 14 grammatical morphemes by James would be: (i) in, on, uncontractible copula, and the articles (because both Cantonese and English use free morphemes for these grammatical items) (ii) regular past tense, present progressive, possessive (since these grammatical information is present in both languages, although Cantonese and English differ in terms of their morphology) (iii) plural forms, third person singular and irregular verbs, irregular past tense, contractible and uncontractible auxiliaries, and contractible copula (as these grammatical items are not found in Cantonese).

Methodology

Participants

Longitudinal data of a Cantonese-English bilingual boy, James, will be used. The data is obtained from the YipMatthews corpus (Yip and Matthews, 2007b), available on the Child Language Data Exchange System (CHILDES) at http://childes.psy.cmu.edu/ (MacWhinney, 2000). Consent was obtained from the participant before the recordings were made, and ethics are already covered by access to the data on CHILDES. For further information please refer to the CHILDES website. This study focuses on the period when he was aged between 2 years 2 months and 3 years 0 months (2;2-3;0). James was born to a middle-class family in Hong Kong, the second of two children. His father is a native speaker of British English and a professional linguist, while his mother is a native speaker of Cantonese and an accountant. James has been exposed to both Cantonese and British English regularly since birth under the one parent-one language policy (Yip and Matthews, 2006: 98). He did not attend any nursery schools or kindergartens before or during the period when the data was collected.

Procedure

James was recorded on a bi-monthly basis from 2;0 to 3;0. Audio recording was conducted by two research assistants present for each recording session, one responsible for each language. In each recording session, one research assistant interacted with the child for approximately half an hour in English and the other for half an hour in Cantonese without any specific orders. The language elicitation took the form of natural conversation in the child’s home. The recordings made in the six English sessions when James was 2;2, 2;4, 2;6, 2;8, 2;10 and 3;0 (± 1 month) are reviewed and compared in this study.

As Brown (1973: 249) has suggested, the first of the 14 grammatical morphemes start to appear at MLUm = 2.25 (i.e. Stage II) and continue to develop through to MLUm = 4.25 (i.e. Stage V). Therefore, the recording made when James was 2;2 is chosen to be the first instalment of the data used in the current article, as the MLUm in the recording when he was 2;0 is 1.72, with most of the utterances being one-word utterances, and therefore not suitable for this investigation. The recording made when James was 3;0 is chosen to be the last instalment of the data, as he achieved an MLUm of 4.26, which suggests that he has reached Stage V, the final stage of the syntactic development.

Analysis of data

Only James’s spontaneous utterances will be included for data analysis. Imitations of adults’ utterances will be excluded. In total, there were 636 spontaneous utterances in the six recordings.

James’s rate of morphosyntactic development of English will be measured in mean length of utterance in morphemes (MLUm), a commonly used benchmark to measure children’s grammatical development at an early stage. MLUm was reported as useful for making within-language comparisons (Döpke, 1998: 564), and is calculated by computing the average of the total number of morphemes in 100 spontaneous utterances produced by the child. The data obtained will be compared with the MLUm and age equivalent suggested by Miller and Chapman (1981: 157-60).

The acquisition pattern of the 14 English grammatical morphemes will be examined in this study, including their number of correct usages and the error patterns. These morphemes are: present progressive (-ing), the prepositions in and on, regular plural (-s), irregular past tense, possessive (’s), uncontractible copula, articles, regular past tense (-ed), third person regular (-s), third person irregular, uncontractible auxiliary, contractible copula and contractible auxiliary. Only grammatical usages of the morphemes will be counted in this study. For instance, ‘*I have a orange’ will not be counted as one of the correct usages of articles, since an should be used instead in this case. On the other hand, an utterance like ‘the dog and the duck stay here’ will be counted twice under the ‘articles’ category. For the preposition in and on, the utterances are only taken into account if the two morphemes mean ‘inside’ and ‘on top of’ respectively in the sentence. For example, ‘in the car’ and ‘on the table’ will be included in the analysis, whereas ‘talk in Cantonese’ and ‘turn on the lights’ will be excluded. James’s acquisition pattern of the grammatical morphemes will be compared with the ones from Adam, Eve and Sarah, the three monolinguals studied in Brown (1973).

Results

Mean length of utterance in morphemes (MLUm)

The data of James obtained in MLUm is shown in Table 3.

Age (years; months)

MLUm

2;2

2.28

2;4

2.74

2;6

3.78

2;8

3.97

2;10

3.49

3;0

4.26

Table 3: James’s age and MLUm data.

Figure 1 shows the relationship between age (±1 month) and MLUm for James and for the norm, where the norm data (from 123 monolinguals) is obtained from Miller and Chapman (1981). The stages of acquisition from Brown (1973) corresponded to James’s (in dark blue) and the 123 English monolinguals’ (in light blue) MLUm are shown inside the squares in the graph.

Figure 1: Relationship between age (±1 month) and mean length of utterance in morphemes (MLUm) for James and for the norm.

Figure 1: Relationship between age (±1 month) and mean length of utterance in morphemes (MLUm) for James and for the norm.

As seen in Figure 1, James went through the stages much earlier than his monolingual counterparts. Generally, James’s MLUm at age 2;2, 2;4, 2;6 and 2;8 corresponds to Stages II, III, IV and V respectively. Note that an English monolingual child usually takes a longer period of time than James to undergo all five stages, and reaches Stage V by 3;5 at the earliest. Nevertheless, James arrived at Stage V at 2;8, nine months in advance compared with the norm.

Acquisition pattern of the 14 English grammatical morphemes

Table 4 presents the number of occurrences of the 14 grammatical morphemes from James’s data in the six recordings. The morphemes are arranged according to their number of occurrences in the first recording session, from the most to the least frequently used.

Grammatical Morpheme

Age (year; month)

2;2

2;4

2;6

2;8

2;10

3;0

Contractible copula

21

7

24

10

15

10

Uncontractible copula

8

8

15

14

13

14

Present progressive

7

9

7

7

5

8

Articles

6

1

29

12

13

18

Possessive

5

1

7

2

1

1

Regular plural

1

0

10

0

2

2

Contractible auxiliary

1

0

4

8

5

5

Third person regular

1

0

3

1

2

0

Irregular past tense

0

1

8

2

0

12

in

0

1

2

6

10

3

Third person irregular

0

0

1

0

0

0

on

0

0

0

0

1

0

Uncontractible auxiliary

0

0

0

0

0

1

Regular past tense

0

0

0

0

0

0

Table 4: The number of occurrences of the 14 grammatical morphemes found in James’s recordings.

The data from Table 4 is also shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: The number of occurrences of the 14 grammatical morphemes found in James’s recordings.

Figure 2: The number of occurrences of the 14 grammatical morphemes found in James’s recordings.

Notice that James did not produce any regular past tense in the data examined. The third person irregular, the preposition on and the uncontractible auxiliary only appeared once in the data set. However, the number of occurrences of each of the grammatical morphemes should be interpreted in the relative sense instead of their face value, as the actual usage of these morphemes during the recording sessions largely depended on what the child wanted to talk about that day. For instance, it is possible that he preferred to talk about present events rather than past events during data elicitation, thus fewer past tense utterances were seen.

Yet, some general patterns can be observed. With reference to the data obtained, among all the target morphemes, James managed to master the contractible and uncontractible copula, the present progressive, as well as the articles first. Similar to Adam, Eve and Sarah, the present progressive was one of the first morphemes successfully acquired by James. In contrast, the three English monolinguals acquired the contractible and uncontractible copula, and the articles at a later stage (Brown, 1973: 274).

Another difference between James’s morphosyntactic acquisition pattern and that of the three monolingual counterparts is that James acquired the contractible copula and auxiliary before the uncontractible ones, which is the opposite of what the monolinguals did (Brown, 1973: 274).

Some sample utterances made by the bilingual child for each of the 13 grammatical morphemes (excluding the regular past tense) are presented here in Table 5.

Grammatical morpheme

James’s data

Contractible copula

That’s a robot

I’m the king

Uncontractible copula

This is closet

This is Kenny’s trouser

Present progressive

Pooh sleeping

They’re riding a bike

Articles

This is the sofa

He wants to sleep in the bedroom

Possessive

That’s [James]’s room

This is Granny’s house

Regular plural

Pants up there

I got the bunnies

Contractible auxiliary

She’s reading

He’s crying

Third person regular

He wants to sleep in the bedroom

and he lives here

in

I got so many things in my tummy

Let’s put this in here

Irregular past tense

I got two dollars

I said bunny

Third person irregular

He doesn’t like you

on

cracker is on the biscuit

Uncontractible auxiliary

Why they are standing like this?

Table 5: Sample utterances made by James for each of the 13 grammatical morphemes.

The irregular past tense verb forms used by James in these recordings are: (i) got (ii) said (iii) did (iv) fell (v) broke (vi) went (vii) told.

James’s error patterns

In most of the cases, before James successfully acquired the target morpheme, he forgot to include the said morpheme in all of the required situations, thus producing ungrammatical phrases. For instance, at 2;2 James could say ‘because it runs’, but he forgot to use the third person verb form and said ‘Mama drive car’ when he was 2;6.

Sometimes, an unacquired morpheme was substituted by an acquired one. For example, the singular copula was used with plural objects before the plural copula was acquired (23).

(23) This is my socks

Nonetheless, James never replaced the unacquired English grammatical morpheme by a Cantonese one. He never produced any utterances like ‘I wash zo2 my hands’, where zo2 is the perfective aspect marker.

Discussion

Does Cantonese-English bilingualism affect the rate of morphosyntactic development in English? If so, does it accelerate or hinder the development?

While it is not possible to conclude that James’s morphosyntactic development in English was definitely faster than that of the monolinguals, his rate of development was indeed above average. Thus, in this case study, the child’s development in one of the languages he speaks is at least not hindered because of his bilingualism.

One of the reasons why James had a relatively higher MLUm than the average of the English monolinguals is that he could already use the conjunctives at an early age. Specifically, James was able to use because as early as 2;2, as seen in ‘because it runs’; he could also make use of and as early as 2;6, as found in ‘mama and baby’. As words and phrases can be joined using the conjunctives, the child will be able to produce longer utterances, leading to a higher MLUm.

Does Cantonese-English bilingualism affect the manner the grammatical morphemes in English were acquired?

Drawing from the results in this study, there were no observable cross-linguistic influences from Cantonese to English in the area of morphosyntax. The actual acquisition order of the 14 grammatical morphemes by James was quite different from the predicted outcome, except that both the uncontractible copula and the articles were among the first morphemes mastered by James. Moreover, the bilingual child did not use Cantonese morphemes to substitute the English ones during the recording sessions.

On the other hand, James’s acquisition pattern was also unlike those of the three monolinguals from Brown’s study in 1973. Although individual differences do occur in the sequence and manner that the 14 grammatical morphemes are acquired, Adam, Eve and Sarah all acquired the morphemes in a similar sequence. Nevertheless, a number of differences can be observed comparing James’s data to the three monolingual children. One of the differences is that James used the contractible copula and auxiliary more than the uncontractible ones when he was younger.

To sum up, the bilingual child did acquire the English grammatical morphemes in a different manner to the monolinguals, but there is no supporting evidence indicating that his knowledge of Cantonese is the leading factor.

Do the results from this case study support the autonomous or interdependent development account more?

Since there is no significant systemic influence on the morphosyntactic development in English in this study, it is possible that James coped with the grammatical and syntactic aspects of the languages using separate systems. This argument could be strengthened if similar results can be seen with the child’s Cantonese development as well in the future.

Limitations

Unfortunately, the precise individual emergence of each of the 14 grammatical morphemes cannot be followed closely in this article due to the rapid syntactic development of the subject. Recording sessions should be conducted, reviewed and compared with a higher frequency, for instance once a week, to obtain a more detailed acquisition timeline of the subject.

Possible future directions

The present study shows that the English morphosyntactic development of a bilingual is largely not affected by his knowledge and usage of Cantonese, therefore showing a preference for the interdependent development account. To bring this to the next level, it would be interesting to see if similar observations are made comparing the bilingual’s Cantonese morphosyntactic development with that of the Cantonese monolinguals. However, the common features in the Cantonese monolinguals’ acquisition pattern will have to be analysed first.

Conclusion

The current paper presents a case study of a Cantonese-English bilingual child’s morphosyntactic development in English. Comparing the data from the bilingual child with his monolingual counterparts, several observations were made. First, the bilingual had an above-average rate of morphosyntactic development, as evidenced by his MLUm data. Secondly, although the acquisition order of the morphemes by the bilingual is different from that of the English monolinguals, there is not enough evidence in this study indicating that such a difference arose because of the bilingual’s knowledge of another language, Cantonese. Taken together, the results seem to support the interdependent development account more. This view could be strengthened if similar results are obtained by comparing the bilingual’s Cantonese morphosyntactic development with that of the Cantonese monolinguals.


Notes

[1] Jasmine Ng is now undertaking a BA in Linguistics and German at the University of Hong Kong and plans to begin a PhD in Speech and Hearing Sciences with a focus on language acquisition in 2019.

List of figures

Figure 1: Relationship between age (±1 month) and mean length of utterance in morphemes (MLUm) for James and for the norm.

Figure 2: The number of occurrences of the 14 grammatical morphemes found in James’s recordings.

List of tables

Table 1: Mean length of utterance in morphemes (MLUm) by age (Miller and Chapman, 1981).

Table 2: Brown’s stages and the order of acquisition of 14 grammatical morphemes (Brown, 1973).

Table 3: James’s age and MLUm data.

Table 4: The number of occurrences of the 14 grammatical morphemes found in James’s recordings.

Table 5: Sample utterances made by James for each of the 13 grammatical morphemes.

References

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To cite this paper please use the following details: Ng, J.H.C. (2018), 'Effects of Bilingualism on Morphosyntactic Development in Children: A Corpus Study', Reinvention: an International Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 11, Issue 2, http://www.warwick.ac.uk/reinventionjournal/issues/volume11issue2/ng. Date accessed [insert date]. If you cite this article or use it in any teaching or other related activities please let us know by e-mailing us at Reinventionjournal at warwick dot ac dot uk.