Similarities and Differences between Simultaneous and Successive Bilingual Children: Acquisition of Japanese Morphology

Yuki Itani-Adams, Junko Iwasaki, Satomi Kawaguchi


This paper compares the acquisition of Japanese morphology of two bilingual children who had different types of exposure to Japanese language in Australia: a simultaneous bilingual child who had exposure to both Japanese and English from birth, and a successive bilingual child who did not have regular exposure to Japanese until he was six years and three months old.  The comparison is carried out using Processability Theory (PT) (Pienemann 1998, 2005) as a common framework, and the corpus for this study consists of the naturally spoken production of these two Australian children. The results show that both children went through the same developmental path in their acquisition of the Japanese morphological structures, indicating that the same processing mechanisms are at work for both types of language acquisition. However, the results indicate that there are some differences between the two children, including the rate of acquisition, and the kinds of verbal morphemes acquired. The results of this study add further insight to an ongoing debate in the field of bilingual language acquisition: whether simultaneous bilingual children develop their language like a first language or like a second language. 


Simultaneous bilingual language acquisition, successive language acquisition, Japanese morphology, Processability Theory

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