Constructively combining languages: The use of code-mixing in German-English bilingual child language acquisition

Antje Endesfelder Quick, Elena Lieven, Michael Tomasello, Albert Backus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Language development in bilingual children is often related to differing levels of proficiency. Objective measurements of bilingual development include for example mean length of utterance (MLU). MLU is almost always calculated for each language context (including both monolingual and code-mixed utterances). In the current study, we analyzed the MLUs of three German-English bilingual children, aged 2;3-3;11 separately for the monolingual and code-mixed utterances. Our results showed that language preference was reflected in MLU values: the more children spoke in one language the higher the MLU was in that language. However, it was the mixed utterances that had the highest MLU for all three children. We support the results with a construction type analysis and suggest a potential usage-based explanation for these results based on individual differences in each child's developmental inventory of words and constructions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-409
Number of pages17
JournalLinguistic Approaches to Bilingualism
Volume8
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Keywords

  • code-mixing
  • German - English
  • bilingual child
  • language proficiency
  • MLU
  • AGREEMENT
  • GENDER
  • USAGE

Cite this

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title = "Constructively combining languages: The use of code-mixing in German-English bilingual child language acquisition",
abstract = "Language development in bilingual children is often related to differing levels of proficiency. Objective measurements of bilingual development include for example mean length of utterance (MLU). MLU is almost always calculated for each language context (including both monolingual and code-mixed utterances). In the current study, we analyzed the MLUs of three German-English bilingual children, aged 2;3-3;11 separately for the monolingual and code-mixed utterances. Our results showed that language preference was reflected in MLU values: the more children spoke in one language the higher the MLU was in that language. However, it was the mixed utterances that had the highest MLU for all three children. We support the results with a construction type analysis and suggest a potential usage-based explanation for these results based on individual differences in each child's developmental inventory of words and constructions.",
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Constructively combining languages : The use of code-mixing in German-English bilingual child language acquisition. / Quick, Antje Endesfelder; Lieven, Elena; Tomasello, Michael; Backus, Albert.

In: Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Vol. 8, No. 3, 2018, p. 393-409.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Constructively combining languages

T2 - The use of code-mixing in German-English bilingual child language acquisition

AU - Quick, Antje Endesfelder

AU - Lieven, Elena

AU - Tomasello, Michael

AU - Backus, Albert

PY - 2018

Y1 - 2018

N2 - Language development in bilingual children is often related to differing levels of proficiency. Objective measurements of bilingual development include for example mean length of utterance (MLU). MLU is almost always calculated for each language context (including both monolingual and code-mixed utterances). In the current study, we analyzed the MLUs of three German-English bilingual children, aged 2;3-3;11 separately for the monolingual and code-mixed utterances. Our results showed that language preference was reflected in MLU values: the more children spoke in one language the higher the MLU was in that language. However, it was the mixed utterances that had the highest MLU for all three children. We support the results with a construction type analysis and suggest a potential usage-based explanation for these results based on individual differences in each child's developmental inventory of words and constructions.

AB - Language development in bilingual children is often related to differing levels of proficiency. Objective measurements of bilingual development include for example mean length of utterance (MLU). MLU is almost always calculated for each language context (including both monolingual and code-mixed utterances). In the current study, we analyzed the MLUs of three German-English bilingual children, aged 2;3-3;11 separately for the monolingual and code-mixed utterances. Our results showed that language preference was reflected in MLU values: the more children spoke in one language the higher the MLU was in that language. However, it was the mixed utterances that had the highest MLU for all three children. We support the results with a construction type analysis and suggest a potential usage-based explanation for these results based on individual differences in each child's developmental inventory of words and constructions.

KW - code-mixing

KW - German - English

KW - bilingual child

KW - language proficiency

KW - MLU

KW - AGREEMENT

KW - GENDER

KW - USAGE

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DO - 10.1075/lab.17008.qui

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