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Auteur: Larisa AVRAM

Co-Auteur(s): Veronica TOMESCU, University of Bucharest, Romania

Romanian clitics and the Interface Hypothesis: The view from two Romanian-Hungarian simultaneous bilinguals

Abstract/Résumé: Recent studies addressing bilingual development have shown that narrow syntactic properties are acquired fully while interface phenomena are vulnerable; their properties may not be fully acquired (Sorace and Filiaci 2006). Our study investigates the acquisition of clitic doubling constructions (CDC) in Romanian by two Romanian-Hungarian simultaneous bilinguals, on the basis of two longitudinal corpora (T. 1;3 - 2;7, P. 1;6-2;8). Romanian ACs have been analysed as a syntactic phenomenon. According to the Interface Hypothesis (IH), in bilingual contexts they should be fully acquired. Hungarian, however, lacks ACs, which might result in delayed acquisition of these pronominals in Romanian. PE is a differential object marker (DOM) (Farkas and Heusinger 2003) whose use is determined by animacy and specificity. Its use in optional contexts has upgrading effects. The IH predicts that the acquisition of PE might be delayed. This prediction is reinforced by the fact that Hungarian is a DOM language as well, but in this case it is the morphology of the object (1st/2nd vs. 3rd person possessive suffix) which determines obligatory object marking (Kamper 2006). In this study the following questions are addressed:(i) are ACs acquired fully in simultaneous bilingual acquisition?; (ii) is the acquisition of ACs parallel to the acquisition of PE?; (iii) are the Romanian-Hungarian data consistent with the IH?; (iv) in what way and for how long does cross-linguistic influence affect interface phenomena? The data show that the developmental path of ACs in a Romanian-Hungarian bilingual context is similar to the one reported for monolingual Romanians (Avram and Coene 2004). The preposition PE, however, is overused, reflecting an early influence of Hungarian. Our results indicate that narrow syntax phenomena are acquired fully and can escape cross-linguistic influence. But interface phenomena are affected by cross-linguistic influence in those domains where there is a superficial similarity between the two languages.