New Developments in Language Acquisition and Language Learning in a Romanian Context. Selected Papers from 2nd Bucharest Colloquium of Language Acquisition, 6-7 December 2013
Guest editors: Anca Sevcenco and Larisa Avram
The subject – object asymmetry in the acquisition of wh-questions in Romanian
Abstract: The literature on the acquisition of subject and object wh-questions reports different results with respect to how children acquire these two types of questions. According to several studies, there is an asymmetry between the acquisition of subject and object wh-questions. Although children acquire the syntax of wh-questions very early, object questions are significantly more difficult than subject questions (O’Grady 1997 for an overview, Guasti 2002, a.o.). Stromswold (1995), on the other hand, provides longitudinal data showing that children acquire subject and object questions concurrently. The aim of this paper is to investigate early subject and object wh-questions in child Romanian with a view to identifying whether the asymmetry reported for other languages is also attested in Romanian. The longitudinal data investigated reveal that subject and direct object wh-questions emerge concurrently. There is, however, a clear difference between subject who questions and subject what questions, with an obvious preference for the former. With what, one notices a clear preference for direct object questions.
Keywords: subject wh-question, object wh-question, child Romanian, longitudinal study
Knowledge of tense semantics in early child Romanian
Abstract: Previous research on the acquisition of tense semantics in child Romanian has demonstrated that typically developing Romanian-speaking three-year-old children have difficulties in the comprehension and production of the imperfect (an imperfective past), and the future (Stoicescu 2013). The present study investigates whether Romanian children have difficulties with the contrasts between the present, the perfect compus (a periphrastic past), and the future. The children obtained high scores for the present in both comprehension and production. In the comprehension of the perfect compus the children performed above chance. In the comprehension and production of the future, the results were significantly lower than chance. The study provides evidence that children have an understanding of the present-past contrasts at this early age, although not at the adult level.
Keywords: acquisition of tense, Romanian, periphrastic past, present, future
Pronominal anaphora resolution in temporal adjuncts in child Romanian
Abstract: In this paper I investigate the anaphoric interpretation of null and overt pronominal subjects in temporal adjuncts in child Romanian. The results show that 5-year old Romanian children make no distinction between null and overt pronominal subjects (personal pronouns and demonstratives) with respect to antecedent choice. I tentatively interpret the results as indicating that 5-year olds cannot fully integrate knowledge of the syntax of subjects with discourse information.
Keywords: null pronominal subject, overt pronominal subject, anaphora resolution, demonstrative, L1 Romanian
Andrei A. Avram
Issues in the acquisition of phonology by an English-Romanian bilingual child
Abstract: This paper is a case study of the early stages in the acquisition of phonology by a bilingual English-Romanian child. The phenomena analyzed are consonant harmony, the treatment of voiceless stops, the emergence of fricatives, the phonetic realization of liquids, and the resolution of various types of onset clusters. Also discussed are some implications of the findings.
Keywords: consonant harmony, voiceless stops, fricatives, liquids, onset clusters
Particularities of Romanian as acquired by young bilingual immigrants in Spain
Abstract: Romanian immigration in Spain reached its peak towards the end of the 2000’s, putting the Romanians on the first place among the immigrant communities in Spain. Several linguistic studies have already posited the existence of a new Romanian variety, the so-called Rumañol, strongly marked by linguistic interference phenomena. This paper uses a quantitative approach and compares the amounts of interference that can be observed in the speech of two distinct immigrant groups, early and late bilinguals, in order to reveal the particularities of the Romanian variety spoken by Romanian children born in or taken to Spain at early ages.
Keywords: language contact, bilingualism, linguistic interference, Rumañol
Switching in a Romanian-Hungarian bilingual context
Abstract: The paper aims to be a descriptive account of the mixed utterances produced by unbalanced simultaneous Romanian-Hungarian bilinguals. The analysis of the mixed utterances in two longitudinal corpora reveals that the great majority is represented by Romanian utterances containing one switched Hungarian word, while Hungarian utterances with a switched Romanian word are practically non-existent. This would appear to fall in with the hypothesis that switching is motivated by imperfect linguistic performance, where the weaker language seeks functional support from the stronger one. However, it is argued here that often switching is as much a matter of personal choice as necessity and a result of the two languages being simultaneously active with all bilinguals.
Keywords: Romanian-Hungarian simultaneous bilinguals, unbalanced bilinguals, switching
On subject use in English as a second language
Abstract: The present article addresses the issue of syntactic transfer in child L2 acquisition, by presenting a two-part study in which Romanian monolinguals are compared to Romanian-Hebrew balanced bilinguals in two spontaneous production tasks. The main research question concerns the influence of Hebrew as a second L1 on the (re)setting of the Null Subject Parameter in English-L2, as Hebrew exhibits the same subject and verb morphology pattern as English for certain persons and tenses. The collected data provide evidence in favour of both access to UG and syntactic transfer, supporting the Full Access Full Transfer Hypothesis.
Keywords: null subject parameter, agreement, full access full transfer hypothesis, L2 English, L1/2L1 Romanian, 2L1 Hebrew
Resumptive pronouns in wh-interrogatives and object relative clauses in L2 English: UG access or transfer?
Abstract: The paper investigates whether resumptive pronouns are attested in the English L2 of Romanian learners and whether their presence can be accounted for in terms of direct access to UG or in terms if transfer hypotheses. The results are also analysed in relation to the Interpretability Hypothesis (Tsimpli and Dimitrakopoulou 2007). Overall, the data provide evidence for transfer of resumptive pronoun use from L1 Romanian to L2 English in the case of object wh-interrogatives and relatives. Resumptives are accepted in the L2 in [d-linked] contexts that mirror the Romanian structures. However, resumptives are also accepted in [non-d-linked] contexts as well, in accordance with the target language. One possible account may be that there is an available position associated with resumptives in the verbal field which can be filled by resumptive material and this position remains available in the L2 as well. Learners have access to L1 and L2 parametric options at the same time, so they accept and produce both L1 and L2 structures. The Romanian data provide support in favour of the Interpretability Hypothesis i.e. there are animacy effects in the Romanian data. The subjects accepted more [-animate] than [+animate] resumptives.
Keywords: wh-interrogatives, relatives, resumptives, L2 English, Interpretability Hypothesis
Diana Hornoiu. Trends in Spoken Romanian. Corpus Design, Data Analysis and Findings. (Reviewed by Costin-Valentin Oancea)