Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Linguistics Vanguard

A Multimodal Journal for the Language Sciences

Editor-in-Chief: Bergs, Alexander / Cohn, Abigail C. / Good, Jeff

CiteScore 2018: 0.95

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.381
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.841

See all formats and pricing
More options …

Cross-linguistic influence in bilingual productions of the English past tense in Arabic heritage speakers of Australian English

Robert MailhammerORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0628-9813 / Ronia Zeidan
Published Online: 2019-10-02 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lingvan-2018-0047


This paper examines cross-linguistic influence in morphology among adult monolingual and heritage speakers (Arabic-English and Chinese-English). Participants performed a task requiring them to form past tenses for English nonce words. Arabic-English bilinguals produced significantly more vowel change past tenses than either English monolinguals or Chinese-English bilinguals. We attribute the preponderance of vowel change past tenses to cross-linguistic influence of Arabic, as vowel change is a dominant morphological property in Arabic but not in English or Chinese. These results support dynamic models of bilingualism with constantly active and interacting languages and contribute to the phenomenology of crosslinguistic interference.

Keywords: English; past tense; bilingual production; crosslinguistic influence; heritage speakers


  • Albright, Adam. 2002. Islands of reliability for regular morphology: Evidence from Italian. Language 78. 684–709.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Albright, Adam & Bruce Hayes. 2003. Rules vs. analogy in English past tenses. A computational/experimental study. Cognition 90. 119–161.CrossrefPubMedGoogle Scholar

  • Bybee, Joan & Dan Slobin. 1982 Rules and schemas in the development and use of the English past tense. Language 58. 265–289.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Clyne, Michael. 2003. Dynamics of language contact. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Coetsem, Frans van. 2000. A general and unified theory of the transmission process in language contact. Heidelberg: Carl Winter.Google Scholar

  • Corbett, Greville. 2007. Canonical typology, suppletion, and possible words. Language 83. 8–42.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Cutler, Anne, Jacques Mehler, Dennis Norris & Juan Segui. 1989. Limits on bilingualism. Nature 340. 229–231.CrossrefPubMedGoogle Scholar

  • Cutler, Anne, Jacques Mehler, Dennis Norris & Juan Segui. 1992. The monolingual nature of speech segmentation by bilinguals. Cognitive Psychology 24. 381–410.PubMedCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Declerck, Mathieu, Kristin Lemhöfer & Jonathan Grainger. 2017. Bilingual language interference initiates error detection: Evidence from language intrusions. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 20(5). 1010–1016.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Dulay, Heidi C. & Marina K. Burt. 1973. Should we teach children syntax? Language Learning (24). 37–53.Google Scholar

  • Festman, Julia & Harald Clahsen. 2016. How Germans prepare for the English past tense: Silent production of inflected words during EEG. Applied Psycholinguistics 37. 487–506.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Fishman, Joshua. 2001. Can threatened languages be saved? Reversing language shift revisited: A 21st century perspective. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar

  • Flege, James E., Elaina M. Frieda & Takeshi Nozawa. 1997. Amount of native-language (L1) use affects the pronunciation of an L2. Journal of Phonetics 25. 169–186.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Flege, James E., Murray J. Munro & Ian R. A. MacKay. 1995. Factors affecting strength of perceived foreign accent in a second language. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 97. 3125–3134.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Foroodi-Nejad, Farzaneh & Johanne Paradis. 2009. Crosslinguistic transfer in the acquisition of compound words in Persian-English bilinguals. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 12(12). 411–427.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Gollan, Tamar H. & Lori-Ann R. Acenas. 2004. What is a TOT? Cognate and translation effects on tip-of the-tongue states in Spanish English and Tagalog–English bilinguals. Journal of Experimental Psychology 30. 246–269.Google Scholar

  • Gollan, Tamar H., Rosa I. Montoya, Christine Fennema-Notestine & Shauna K. Morris. 2005. Bilingualism affects picture naming but not picture classification. Memory & Cognition 33. 1220–1234.CrossrefPubMedGoogle Scholar

  • Grosjean, François. 1985. The bilingual as a competent but specific speaker-hearer. Journal of Mulitlingual and Multicultural Development 6. 467–677.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Höder, Steffen. 2014. Constructing diasystems: Grammatical organisation in bilingual groups. In Tor A. Åfarli & Brit Mæhlum (eds.), The sociolinguistics of grammar, 137–152. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Höder, Steffen. 2018. Grammar is community-specific: Background and basic concepts of Diasystematic Construction Grammar. In Hans C. Boas & Steffen Höder (eds.), Constructions in contact, 37–70. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Hulk, Aafke & Natascha Müller. 2000. Bilingual first language acquisition at the interface between syntax and pragmatics. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition (3). 227–244.Google Scholar

  • Hulstijn, Jan H. 2012. The construct of language proficiency in the study of bilingualism from a cognitive perspective. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 15(2). 422–433.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Indefrey, Peter, Hülya Şahin & Marianne Gullberg. 2017. The expression of spatial relationships in Turkish-Dutch bilinguals. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 20(3). 473–493.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Jacobson, Peggy & David Livert. 2010. English past tense use as a clinical marker in older bilingual children with language impairment. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics 24(2). 101–121.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Jacobson, Peggy & Richard Schwartz. 2005. English past tense use in bilingual children with language impairment. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 14. 313–323.CrossrefPubMedGoogle Scholar

  • Kroll, Judith F., Paola E. Dussias, Kinsey Bice & Lauren Perrotti. 2015. Bilingualism, mind, and brain. Annual Review of Linguistics 1. 377–394.CrossrefPubMedGoogle Scholar

  • Li, Charles N. & Sandra A. Thompson. 1981. Mandarin Chinese: A functional reference grammar. Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar

  • Lu, Ying. 2016. The aquisition of English past tense in bilingual children. Austin: University of Texas at Austin.Google Scholar

  • Lucas, Christopher. 2014. Contact-induced change. In Claire Bowern & Bethwyn Evans (eds.), The Routledge handbook of historical linguistics, 519–536. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Luk, Gigi, Eric De Sa & Ellen Bialystok. 2011. Is there a relation between onset age of bilingualism and enhancement of cognitive control? Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 14. 588–595.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Matras, Yaron. 2009. Language contact. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Matthews, Stephen & Virginia Yip. 1994. Cantonese: A comprehensive grammar. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • McDonald, Janet L. 2000. Grammaticality judgements in a second language: Influences of age of acquisition and native language. Applied Psycholinguistics 21. 395–423.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Meisel, Jürgen. 2009. Second language acquisition in early childhood. Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft 28. 5–34.Google Scholar

  • Montrul, Silvina. 2013. Bilingualism and the Heritage Language Speaker. In Tej K. Bhatia & William C. Ritchie (eds.), The handbook of bilingualism, 168–189. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar

  • Müller, Natascha & Aafke Hulk. 2001. Cross-linguistic influence in bilingual language acquisition: Italian and French as recipient languages. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 4. 1–21.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Muysken, Pieter. 2013. Language contact outcomes as the result of bilingual optimization strategies. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 16. 709–730.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Myers-Scotton, Carol. 2006. Multiple voices: An introduction to bilingualism. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar

  • Ngyuyen-Hoan, Minh & Marcus Taft. 2010. The impact of a subordinate L1 on L2 auditory processing in adult bilinguals. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 13. 217–230.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Nicoladis, Elena. 2002. What’s the difference between toilet paper and paper toilet? French-English bilingual children’s crosslinguistic transfer in compound nouns. Journal of Child Language 29. 843–863.CrossrefPubMedGoogle Scholar

  • Nicoladis, Elena. 2003. Cross-linguistic transfer in deverbal compounds of preschool bilingual children. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 6. 17–31.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Nicoladis, Elena, Jianhui Song & Paula Marentette. 2012. Do young bilinguals acquire past tense morphology like monolinguals, only later? Evidence from French–English and Chinese–English bilinguals. Applied Psycholinguistics 33. 457–479.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Paradis, Johanne. 2010. Bilingual children’s acquisition of English verb morphology: Effects of language exposure, structure complexity, and task type. Language Learning 60(3). 651–680.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Paradis, Johanne, Elena Nicoladis, Martha Crago & Fred Genesee. 2010. Bilingual children’s acquisition of the past tense: A usage-based approach. Journal of Child Language 37. 1–35.Google Scholar

  • Pasquarella, Adrian, Xi Chen, Katie Lam & Yang C. Luo. 2011. Cross-language transfer of morphological awareness in Chinese-English bilinguals. Journal of Research in Reading 34. 23–42.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Peristeri, Eleni, Ianthi Maria Tsimpli, Antonella Sorace & Kyrana Tsapkini. 2018. Language interference and inhibition in early and late successive bilingualism. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 21(5). 1009–1034. doi: 10.1017/S1366728917000372.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Plag, Ingo. 2000. Irregular past tense formation in English. In Ingo Plag & Klaus P. Schneider (eds.), Language use, language acquisition and (mostly) empirical studies in honour of Rüdiger Zimmermann, 134–149. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag.Google Scholar

  • Prapobaratanakul, Chariya & Nattama Pongpairoj. 2016. Variable production of English past tense morphology: A case study of a Thai-speaking learner of English. PASAA: Notes and news about language teaching and linguistics in Thailand 51. 71–96.Google Scholar

  • Prasada, Sandeep & Steven Pinker. 1993. Generalization of regular and irregular morphological patterns. Language and Cognitive Processes 8. 1–56.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Qi, Ruying & Bruno di Biase. in press. Environmental influence in Mandarin-English. International Journal of Bilingualism.Google Scholar

  • Ryding, Karin C. 2005. A reference grammar of Mordern Standard Arabic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Silva-Corvalán, Carmen & Jeanine Treffers-Daller (eds.). 2016. Language dominance in Bilinguals: Issues of measurement and operationalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Smith, Carlota. 1997. The parameter of aspect. 2nd edn. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar

  • Thomason, Sarah G. & Terrence Kaufman. 1988. Language contact, creolization and genetic linguistics. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar

  • Waldron, Eric J. & Arturo Hernandez. 2013. The role of age of acquisition on past tense generation in Spanish-English bilinguals: An fMRI study. Brain & Language 125. 28–37.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Weber-Frox, Christine & Helen J. Neville. 2001. Sensitive periods differentiate processing of open and closed class words: An ERP study of bilinguals. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research 44. 1338–1353.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Winford, Donald. 2003. An introduction to contact linguistics. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar

About the article

Received: 2018-07-30

Accepted: 2019-07-22

Published Online: 2019-10-02

Funding Source: Australian Research Council

Award identifier / Grant number: DP130103935

This paper has been presented at various conferences. We thank the audiences for valuable feedback. Thanks also go to Christine Dimroth and two anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions. We also thank Amanda Rysling for her help with the statistics and for comments on an earlier version, and Cathi Best, Hans Boas and Ruying Qi for providing feedback on various drafts. All remaining errors are our own. We also gratefully acknowledge the support from the Australian Research Council (Funder Id: http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100000923, DP130103935).

Citation Information: Linguistics Vanguard, Volume 5, Issue 1, 20180047, ISSN (Online) 2199-174X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lingvan-2018-0047.

Export Citation

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in