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Book: Phonology in Protolanguage and Interlanguage

Chapter: 2. Crosslinguistic Interaction in Early Bilingual Phonology: A Critical Review

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.31673


This chapter provides a critical review of research on cross-linguistic interaction in the phonetic and phonological development of young bilingual children. The first part of the chapter presents examples of cross-linguistic interaction (e.g., acceleration, delay, transfer) based on Paradis and Genesee’s (1996) framework using a data-base of German-Spanish bilingual children tested in Hamburg, Germany. It then goes on to examine whether other investigators have documented similar results to the Hamburg study by testing comparable contact situations (e.g., comparing languages with high vs. low percentages of codas). This survey indicates that few generalizations can be gleaned across studies. The second part of the chapter explores possible reasons for the lack of generalizations, which include methodological limitations and the lack of an appropriate research model. It is argued that by incorporating additional interaction patterns into the current framework (such as merging and deflecting patterns), and by considering the developing speech-motor and lexical abilities of young children, a better explanatory model of phonological interaction in early bilingualism might be obtainable.

Chapter Contributors

  • Margaret Kehoe ( - mkehoe) 'University of Geneva'