Considering Linguistic Input in a Bilingual Situation: Implications for Acquisition One aspect of linguistic input that may vary in bilingual speech communities is the use of overregularization (e.g., catched). In an earlier study, typically developing bilingual Spanish/English-speaking children were noted to use overregularizations in an elicited production task, accept these forms in a grammaticality judgment task, and reject standard irregular ... Research Article
Research Article  |   July 01, 2008
Considering Linguistic Input in a Bilingual Situation: Implications for Acquisition
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Peggy F. Jacobson
    St. John’s University, Queens, NY
  • Helen S. Cairns
    Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • Contact author: Peggy F. Jacobson, Department of Speech, Communication Sciences, & Theatre, 8000 Utopia Parkway, Jamaica, NY 11439. E-mail: jacobsop@stjohns.edu.
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Research Articles
Research Article   |   July 01, 2008
Considering Linguistic Input in a Bilingual Situation: Implications for Acquisition
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2008, Vol. 39, 352-364. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2008/033)
History: Received April 14, 2006 , Revised October 26, 2006 , Accepted August 17, 2007
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2008, Vol. 39, 352-364. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2008/033)
History: Received April 14, 2006; Revised October 26, 2006; Accepted August 17, 2007
Web of Science® Times Cited: 5

One aspect of linguistic input that may vary in bilingual speech communities is the use of overregularization (e.g., catched). In an earlier study, typically developing bilingual Spanish/English-speaking children were noted to use overregularizations in an elicited production task, accept these forms in a grammaticality judgment task, and reject standard irregular forms (e.g., caught) at surprising rates in favor of the overregularization (P. F. Jacobson, 2002).

Purpose This study examined the extent to which bilingual adult speakers reported hearing and using overregularized forms.

Method Thirty Spanish/English-speaking adults who worked in settings with bilingual children served as informants. The stimuli included 15 regular and 15 irregular verbs—each as a correct irregular form and as an overregularization (e.g., caught and catched) or as a correct regular form and as an irregularization (e.g., helped and holp). Employing a modified grammaticality judgment task, the informants were instructed to state whether they heard these forms produced by bilingual adults and whether or not they themselves ever used the forms.

Results Although monolingual English speakers overwhelmingly rejected hearing or using overregularizations, the bilingual adults responded differently. They acknowledged hearing the correct regular and irregular forms in 96% of the instances presented. However, they also reported hearing 62%, and using 20%, of the overregularizations.

Discussion These results prompt speculation regarding possible variation in the nature of linguistic input in the bilingual community and address learnability issues in the acquisition of the English past tense by bilingual children. The challenges facing speech-language pathologists who work with children from bilingual communities are discussed.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This study evolved from an earlier dissertation (“Elicited Production and Grammaticality Judgments by Sequential Spanish/English Bilingual Children With Specific Language Impairment,” May 2002) that was completed by Peggy Jacobson under the supervision of Richard Schwartz. We thank the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation for supporting the dissertation project through the Arlene Matkin Award for Research in Child Language. Support for the present study was provided by a St. John’s University Faculty Seed Grant, and in part by NIH Grant 5R03DC 07018-01A1. We owe tremendous thanks to the adults who participated in the study. We are also grateful to David Livert, statistical consultant, for his expertise in hierarchical linear modeling. We thank our colleagues Jose Centeno, Mira Goral, and Richard Schwartz for their feedback on earlier drafts of this manuscript.
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