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International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching

Ed. by Jordens, Peter / Roberts, Leah

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Volume 55, Issue 3


Aspectual distinctions in the narratives of bilingual children

Maria Andreou / Ianthi Tsimpli
Published Online: 2017-09-01 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/iral-2017-0111


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.

Keywords: aspect; narratives; bilingualism


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About the article

Published Online: 2017-09-01

Published in Print: 2017-09-26

Citation Information: International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, Volume 55, Issue 3, Pages 305–324, ISSN (Online) 1613-4141, ISSN (Print) 0019-042X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/iral-2017-0111.

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