Acquisition of kinship reference: A study on word-formation processes of adult language learners

Peter Broeder, G. Extra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
108 Downloads (Pure)


Although there is a substantial cross‐linguistic body of evidence on expressive devices for kinship reference in a variety of languages, empirical studies dealing with the use of such devices in processes of (second) language acquisition are rather scarce. This multiple‐case study takes the latter perspective, focussing on Turkish and Moroccan learners of Dutch. The data were derived from a longitudinal and cross‐linguistic project carried out with adult immigrants in Western Europe, under the auspices of the European Science Foundation. After introducing the study, a typological comparison is presented of expressive devices for kinship reference in the three languages under consideration, characterized by a great distance between each of the two source languages and the target language. After a brief description of the informants and data‐base, the study focuses on learner varieties for referring to the dimensions of blood relationship, kinship degree, generation, and gender. The study will offer evidence for both general and source‐language‐specific principles of language acquisition. Language learners start with the use of an initial and standard‐like core wordstock for referring to “close” kinsmen. “Distant” kinsmen are initially referred to by non‐standard devices, which are partly derived from source‐language conventions. Left‐branching principles in Turkish vs. right‐branching principles in Moroccan Arabic, in particular, show a clear influence on these learners' innovative devices for kinship reference in Dutch.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-227
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Linguistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1991


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