By Andries W. Coetzee
Oct 20, 2012
Acrisio Pires is just back from giving one of the invited presentations at the International Workshop on Heritage Languages, held at the Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Germany. This is well-deserved recognition for the research on bilingualism and heritage languages that Acrisio has been conducting over the past several years. The workshop focused on the nature and effects of bilingualism in the context of heritage language acquisition. Acrisio reports that the workshop presented "many opportunities for very productive conversations with various researchers who also presented, including Ianthi Tsimpli, David Adger, Cristina Flores, Naomi Nagy, Doris Stolberg, Jeanine Treffers-Daller and the workshop organizers Natasha Mueller, Pedro Guijarro-Fuentes and Katrin Schmitz". The title and abstract of Acrisio's presentation are given below.
Bilingualism and Gradual Syntactic Change
Bilingual language acquisition and bilingual competence have often been identified as showing different effects leading to instability in bilingual speakers’ competence in one or both languages at play, specifically when they are compared to monolinguals. Heritage language speakers are defined as having acquired in childhood a language that is not the dominant language of the larger society. The grammatical knowledge of heritage speakers has very often been identified as showing deficits when they are compared to monolingual speakers, which has been argued as evidence of incomplete acquisition and/or attrition of the heritage language. In this presentation, instead, these effects (or lack thereof) are analyzed as resulting from natural linguistic processes involving the interaction between language acquisition and the nature of syntactic knowledge. In connection with this goal, results from two ongoing joint projects are presented: English-Bengali bilingualism (joint project with Tridha Chatterjee and Leilani Kurtak-Mcdonald), and Chinese-English bilingualism (joint project with Tim Chou).