Bilingual vocabulary acquisition A corpus-based case study
A bilingual learning two languages from birth seems to follow the same developmental trajectory as that of a monolingual. However, within vocabulary acquisition persistent and significant differences have been found between bilingual and monolinguals when the languages of bilinguals are compared separately to monolinguals’ level. The domain specific nature of a bilingual’s vocabularies is an important characteristic in understanding this difference, but also when investigating a bilingual’s vocabulary acquisition. The role of context in which a bilingual acquires his or her languages is crucial to the aspect of domain specificity. An important theory here is the Complementarity Principle, emphasizing how different domains in life require different languages and that the vocabularies and proficiencies of a bilingual’s languages will develop thereafter. This theory has mostly been investigated in adult bilingualism. This study examines the English and Norwegian vocabularies of a 2-year-old bilingual girl, Emma. Emma is growing up in northern Norway and has acquired Norwegian and English from birth. The thesis uses corpus data collected between the ages of 2;7-2;11 to examine the expressive lexical characteristics of Emma’s vocabularies. Emma is a relatively balanced bilingual, with an asymmetrical code-switching pattern. Her vocabulary levels do not match those of monolingual peers when her languages are compared separately, but when her total and conceptual vocabularies are compared to monolingual vocabulary levels, her results are more comparable. Based on this, Emma’s results are discussed in relation to the implications of the complementarity principle and current research on monolingual and bilingual comparisons.
ForlagUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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