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Flashcards in Bilingualism Deck (14)
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Simultaneous bilingualism

Heard two languages from birth and acquires them simultaneously


Sequential bilingualism

Hears and begins acquiring one language at birth and then later is
exposed to another

Learn Spanish at home and the English at school


The fusion hypothesis

Children initially create one system that combines all languages heard


The differentiation with autonomous development hypothesis

Children distinguish the languages and they do not affect one another


The differentiation with interdependent development hypothesis

Children distinguish the languages but they affect one another


How is this knowledge of multiple languages represented in the brain?

3 theories by Meisel

The fusion hypothesis

The differentiation with autonomous development hypothesis

The differentiation with interdependent development hypothesis


How is this knowledge of multiple languages represented in the brain?

Volterra and Taeschner

Children start off with one system

The subsequently distinguish the vocabularies but use a single grammar

Around 3 years of age the children form two distinct systems

Work has since suggested earlier differentiation


Is bilingual children's sound perception tuned to both languages simultaneously?

Perception of sound difference that exists in Catalan but not Spanish

Monolingual learners of both Spanish and Catalan could perceive the distinction at 4 months

At 8 months and 12 months only Catalan learners could perceive
the difference

Bilingual children could perceive the difference at 4 and 12 months but not at 8 months


Do children vary babbling according to context?


10-14 month olds in bilingual Montreal families did not babble differently in English and French contexts

There is a case of one child who babbled differently depending on which parent (each parent spoke a different language)


Bilingual word learning and mutual exclusivity

Have two words for a given object

So what happens?

Would know the English word for some thing and the Spanish word for others

Would learn the wrong word for objects - already know the word for shoe, so zapato will get assigned to something other than a shoe - misassigning words

So how does this work?

Different languages are often learned in different contexts, so are the vocabularies separate?

8-30 month olds - about 30% of their vocabulary existed in both languages - translational equivalents

Are children aware of different languages as different systems and so override the mutual exclusivity?

Bilinguals less likely to display mutual exclusivity

Trilinguals don't seem to use is at all

What does this mean for theories of ‣ language learning and mutual exclusivity?

Strong case for learned rather than innate


Bilingualism and Theory of Mind

Many people a bilingual child encounters do not understand the language they know

Requires taking someone else's perspective

Need to reason about different people - one contains knowledge of English, another contains knowledge of Spanish

Monolingual kids have a hard time understanding that not everyone speaks their language - there is a thing called Spanish and only some people understand it

If context-dependent, could be just another rule rather than a theory of mind (these are common in other areas of kids' lives)


Code Switching

Deliberate switching from one language to another in the middle of a discourse or sentence

Typically requires theory of mind



(and 2 reasons it happens)

Combination of elements from more than one language in a discourse or sentence stemming from incomplete knowledge of one language

Reasons for mixing

In order to fill a lexical gap
Don't know the word in one language

Non-balanced language
One language is more dominant than the other
But only very unbalanced


What can mixing tell us about how languages are represented in the mind?

If languages were completely separate for the speaker, then mixing wouldn't occur

The extent of mixing tells us how separate the languages are

The kind of elements that are mixed tells us about what are separate and what are interrelated