AN ANALYSIS OF INTERLINGUISTIC INFLUENCE FROM CHINESE INTO ENGLISH IN DIRECT OBJECT REALIZATION IN CHINESE-ENGLISH BILINGUAL CHILDREN
Keywords:english, billingual acquisition, null object, interlinguistic influence, null object language, early language acquisition
While null objects are possible and pervasive in Chinese, their occurrence in languages like English and Spanish is rather restricted. In the case of developing grammars, the omission of categories that characterizes the initial stages of acquisition also affects the object category, together with inflection, subjects, determiners, etc. The main goal of this article is to investigate the nature of interlinguistic influence from Chinese into English in a set of Chinese-English (C-E) bilingual children with a focus on bilingual children’s early direct object (DO) realization in English and to provide new empirical evidence for the postulation that the development of the two languages is interdependent. In order to do so, a comparative study has been carried out: the English production of C-E bilinguals is analysed with regard to DOs and, in order to determine whether the possible overproduction of null DOs is due to influence from the other first language (L1) (i.e. Chinese) or is rather part of the developmental process, a double comparison is established with English monolinguals (E monolinguals) and with Spanish-English bilinguals (S-E bilinguals). The results show that C-E bilinguals’ performance in terms of DO realization in English is significantly different from that of both E monolinguals and S-E bilinguals and that the latter two groups behave similarly. This finding supports the conclusion that, although null DOs occur in the initial stages of child language acquisition regardless of whether the adult grammar allows them (Chinese) or not (English and Spanish), in the case of C-E bilinguals’ English development, interlinguistic influence from Chinese into English has a negative effect as reflected in null DOs being produced at a higher rate and until later in life.
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