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Write a summary of 300 words about the following chapter topic: Chapter 14. Early bilingual language development : one language or two? By FRED GENESEE. Essay Example

4EARLY BILINGUAL LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT: ONE LANGUAGE OR TWO?

Early Bilingual Language Development: One Language or Two?

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This chapter presents a basis for claims that children who learn two languages simultaneously during their infancy can not be able to differentiate between the two languages or mix the elements of these languages. Genesee discusses the concept of bilingual mixing which include lexical, phonological, phrasal, morphological, semantic, syntactic and pragmatic mixing. He notes that the mixing is more frequent in early stages of bilingual development and it tends to diminish with age.

Lexical mixing is the most frequent type of mixing and can either be in content or function words. Phonological mixing involves the blending of phonemic segments from two languages. Phrasal mixing involves the mixing of phrases while maintaining structural consistency to the extent of having no syntactic errors or lexical redundancies. Morphological mixing occurs when one mixes the grammatical morphemes. Syntactic mixing refers to structural interactions in which one can use a structural order of another language. Semantic mixing is another mixing that can be difficult to interpret where one uses verbs from a different language system in another language, thus reflecting lack of differentiation between these language systems. Finally, pragmatic mixing occurs through imitations from the mixing of their parents.

Volteria and Taeschner (1978) example give an explanation to a unitary language system. In this system, children use items from both the language systems indiscriminately in contexts of their communication. They interpret bilingual mixing using a three stage model. The initial stage involves an initial unification of both the syntactic and lexical subsystems. The second stage is differentiation of the lexicon but with continued unification of the syntax. The final stage is the differentiation of both the lexicon and syntax. The unitary language system explanation implicates the nature of representational system that underlies the development of the child’s lingual competence. It shows that there is no need for differential distribution of the items of the two languages being used in different contexts.

Input plays an important role in the determination of the rate and type of language mixing among the bilingual children. A child’s mixing utterances can be traced to the child’s language environment i.e. the influence of the nursery school teacher or parents who use mixed utterances in responding to the language choices of their children. Children develop language mixing if they are exposed to a frequent and general mixing environment since in this environment; there are fully formed dialects that consist of elements of both languages.

Reference

Genesee, F. (2000). Early Bilingual Language Development: One Language or Two? In L. Wei (Ed.), The Bilingualism Reader (pp. 306-321). New York, NY: Routledge