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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton September 1, 2017

Aspectual distinctions in the narratives of bilingual children

  • Maria Andreou EMAIL logo and Ianthi Tsimpli


This study investigates the production of perfective and imperfective aspect in Greek by Greek-German and Greek-English bilingual children. Participants produced retellings of narratives (ENNI, Schneider et al. 2006), which were then coded for the use of grammatical aspect, perfective and imperfective, as well as for lexical and grammatical aspect combinations. Ninety children, 8 to 12 years old, participated in the study: thirty Greek-German bilinguals, thirty Greek-English bilinguals and thirty Greek monolinguals. Although German and English differ in the linguistic expression of aspect in that German lacks morphological aspect, while English marks the +/–progressive distinction, our results reveal that the two bilingual groups did not differ in their preference for perfective aspect. Perfective aspect was also preferred by the Greek monolingual children. Nevertheless, monolingual and Greek-German bilingual children produced fewer perfective verbs compared to the Greek-English children. Finally, all three groups preferred to use perfective aspect with accomplishment/achievement predicates, whereas a difference between the three groups is found in the use of imperfective aspect with stative, activity and semelfactive predicates. This provides partial support to theories which argue for lexical aspect guiding morphological aspect marking in developing grammars.


Thales FP7 Project “Bilingual Acquisition and Bilingual Education: The Development of Linguistic and Cognitive Abilities in Different Types of Bilingualism” (BALED—Award No MIS377313, Principal Investigator: Prof. Ianthi Tsimpli). This research has been co-financed by the European Union (European Social Fund—ESF) and Greek national funds through the Operational Program “Education and Lifelong Learning” of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF)—Research Funding Program: Thales. Investing in knowledge society through the European Social Fund.


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Published Online: 2017-9-1
Published in Print: 2017-9-26

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