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Book: Phonology in Protolanguage and Interlanguage

Chapter: 3. German-Spanish Bilinguals’ Phonological Grammars: Permeable or Resilient?

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.31674


This chapter focuses on the development of German-Spanish bilingual children’s phonological grammars, which are compared to the grammars of two control groups: Spanish and German monolinguals. The bilingual children grew up in North Germany and were exposed to the two languages from birth. Data collection was done in the home of each child, while playing and conversing. The domains analyzed are characterized by phonological differences between German and Spanish and cover segments as well as prosody. An interesting line of bilingual research began with Paradis and Genesee (1996)’s study, where they asked about crosslanguage interaction between the languages of bilinguals. They did not find interaction in the morphosyntactic domains, but studies on phonological acquisition have found much interaction between the phonological components of bilingual grammars, which are permeable and resilient at the same time. The present article reports on the interaction between the phonology of simultaneous bilinguals, and suggests that Optimality Theory, based on constraints and their demotion, is capable of carrying out the most explanatory analysis of the results on acquisition. Several studies of bilingual children producing utterances framed in various segmental and suprasegmental language domains are inspected here.

Chapter Contributors

  • Conxita Lleó ( - conxita) 'University of Hamburg (Retired)'