Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Mixing into weaker language

Studies above show that bilingual children can differentiate between their languages and show sensitivity to their interlocutor’s linguistic abilities from a very early age. Yet it is still implied that mixing occurs for qualitatively different reasons to adults. For instance, Cantone & Müller (2007) suggest that children mix more often into their weaker language. However, adults also have lexical gaps in weaker languages. The assumption of separate lexicons is weakened in a draft of Cantone & Müller’s paper:

“… one word und two word utterances …” (Cantone & Müller, 2007b, p.8, my emphasis).

Cantone & Müller’s theory could explain this mixing – that is, they are mixing into the language they are less ‘ready’ to speak (both authors are stronger speakers of German). The example is harsh, but demonstrates that it is unclear why their theory applies to developing children alone. The observation that both children and adults mix more into a weaker language is not surprising, and may only be a quantitative difference.

1 comment:

  1. dude...tough call on that one, but you have to believe in code mixing to begin with ;)