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The role of language aptitude in first language attrition: The case of prepubescent attriters
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Centre for Research on Bilingualism.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Centre for Research on Bilingualism.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Centre for Research on Bilingualism.
2010 (English)In: Applied Linguistics, ISSN 0142-6001, E-ISSN 1477-450X, Vol. 31, no 3, 443-464 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

While language aptitude has been investigated actively within second language research, there is a current dearth of research on the effects of aptitude in cases of attrition. The aim of the present investigation was to explore the role of language aptitude for L1 proficiency in speakers who experienced a break with their L1 setting prior to puberty. Twenty-five L1 SpanishL2 Swedish bilinguals residing in Sweden participated in the study, and 15 native speakers of Spanish living in Chile were recruited as controls. The L1 proficiency was measured by means of a grammaticality judgement test (GJT) and language aptitude data were obtained through the Swansea Language Aptitude Test (Meara et al. <xref ref-type="bibr" rid="B36">2003</xref>). Results showed a positive correlation between GJT performance and language aptitude. More specifically, the bilinguals with above-average aptitude were more likely to score within the native range on the GJT than those with below-average aptitude. It was also seen that among the participants with below-average aptitude, GJT scores were related to daily L1 use. In view of these findings, we suggest that language aptitude has a compensatory function in language attrition, helping the attriter to retain a high level of L1 proficiency despite reduced L1 contact.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 31, no 3, 443-464 p.
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-25495DOI: 10.1093/applin/amp059ISI: 000278220300006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-25495DiVA: diva2:199833
Available from: 2008-09-25 Created: 2008-09-20 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Age differences in first language attrition: A maturational constraints perspective
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Age differences in first language attrition: A maturational constraints perspective
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis investigates age-related differences in first language (L1) attrition in a second language (L2) setting. The thesis is based on four individual studies. The aim of each of the studies has been to examine aspects of age differences that to date have remained in the background of attrition research: Study I gives an overview of research on age differences in L1 attrition and suggests a reinterpretation of age effects in attrition, using as a point of departure critical period constructs. Study I also formulates hypotheses regarding the contour and timing of attrition susceptibility and its interplay with non-biological factors. Study II investigates L1 residual knowledge and L2 ultimate attainment in international adoptees. The results suggest that a) that L1 remnants may be found if relearning activities have taken place prior to testing; b) L2 learners who have experienced a complete cut-off in L1 contact do not attain higher L2 proficiency levels than learners who have stayed in contact with the L1. The results also indicate that the level of L1 reactivation and L2 ultimate attainment are related to age of adoption. Study III examines age effects on the retention of L1 event construal patterns. The results show that the onset of puberty is a turning point for the degree of conformity with native behaviour, i.e. those who arrived in the L2 setting before puberty were more likely to exhibit non-converging patterns than those who arrived after puberty. This finding suggests that in attrition conceptual proficiency is equally affected by age as are formal language skills. Finally, Study IV explores the role of language aptitude in prepubescent attriters. The results show that nativelike grammatical intuitions are connected to language aptitude, and that speakers with high levels of language aptitude rely less on L1 contact than do speakers with low levels of language aptitude in their retention of nativelike grammatical intuitions in the L1.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Centrum för tvåspråkighetsforskning, 2008. 181 p.
Series
Dissertations in Bilingualism, ISSN 1400-5921 ; 17
Keyword
first language attrition, age differences, maturational constraints, critical period, language acquisition, bilingualism, international adoptees, conceptual proficiency, language aptitude
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
Bilingualism
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-8217 (URN)978-91-7155-731-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2008-10-17, hörsal 7, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2008-09-25 Created: 2008-09-20 Last updated: 2015-03-12Bibliographically approved

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