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Subject realization and crosslinguistic interference in the bilingual acquisition of Spanish and English: what is the role of the input? This study investigated whether crosslinguistic interference occurs in the domain of subject realization in Spanish in a bilingual acquisition context. We were also interested in exploring whether the source of the interference is due to child-internal crosslanguage contact between English and Spanish, as is commonly assumed, or due to the nature of the language input in a bilingual family, a factor which has not typically been considered in studies of crosslinguistic influence. The use of subjects in a null subject language like Spanish is a phenomenon linked to the pragmatics/syntax interface of the grammar, and thus, is a domain where crosslinguistic interference is predicted to be likely to occur in bilingual acquisition (Müller & Hulk, 2001). Using spontaneous language data available from CHILDES (www.childes.psy.cmu.edu), we examined the use of overt subjects in Spanish by two Spanish monolingual children (ages: 1;8-2;7 and 1;8-1;11) one Spanish-English bilingual child (age 1;9-2;6) and their parental interlocutors. We looked at the proportions of overt versus null subjects as well as the discourse-pragmatic contexts of overt subject use by the children in order to uncover bilingual/monolingual differences in the distributional properties and the functional determinants of subject realization. We also looked at identical variables in the speech of the children's parental interlocutors to investigate the potential influence of the input on the children's output. Our results suggest that the bilingual child showed patterns in her subject realizations in Spanish that could be interpreted as due to crosslinguistic effects from English; however, there is also evidence that these effects may have a source in the input, rather than resulting from internal crosslanguage contact. While our data do not permit us to distinguish conclusively between these two possible sources, they indicate that future research on crosslinguistic influence in bilingual acquisition should take input into account. JCL
A connectionist account of Spanish determiner production. Evidence from experimental studies of Spanish children's production of determiners reveals that they pay more attention to phonological cues present in nouns than to natural semantics when assigning gender to determiners (Pérez-Pereira, 1991). This experimental work also demonstrated that Spanish children are more likely to produce the correct determiner when given a noun with phonological cues which suggest it is masculine, and more likely to assign masculine gender to nouns with ambiguous cues. In this paper, we investigate the phonological cues available to children and seek to explore the possibility that differential frequency in the linguistic input explains the priority given to masculine forms when children are faced with ambiguous novel items. A connectionist model of determiner production was incrementally trained on a lexicon of determiner-noun phrases taken from parental speech in a longitudinal study of a child between the ages of 1;7 and 2;11 (López Ornat, Fernandez, Gallo & Mariscal, 1994) preserving the type and token frequency information. An analysis of the database of parental productions revealed that while regular feminine nouns were slightly more frequent than regular masculine nouns, irregular masculine nouns outnumbered irregular feminine nouns by roughly 2 to 1. On the basis of this, we made the prediction that as the training lexicon builds up, the network will perform better overall on masculine determiners than would be predicted from their forms alone and will tend to assign masculine gender to ambiguous novel nouns in a test set. The findings indicate that, at least in the case of Spanish gender agreement for determiners and nouns, a general associative learning mechanism can account for important characteristics of the acquisition process seen in children. JCL