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Academic Paper

Title: Minimalism and Bilingualism: How and Why Bilingualism Could Benefit Children with SLI
Author: Thomas Roeper
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of Massachusetts
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Abstract: We begin with the hypothesis that all people are “bilingual” because every language contains ingredients from several grammars, just as English exhibits both an Anglo-Saxon and a Latinate vocabulary system. We argue that the dominant grammar is defined by productivity and recursion in particular. Although current evidence is sparse, in principle, for a child who shows Specific Language Impairment (SLI) in a bilingual environment, richer modules in one grammar may help trigger more obscure modules in another language. Thus, if one language has a rich case system, it may help a child see an impoverished case system in another grammar. Examples from prepositional systems, wh-movement, recursive possessives and others are discussed. In general, a second language can be beneficial to the SLI child in the acquisition of both languages. Minimalism offers a level of abstraction where these cross-language connections can most naturally be stated.


This article appears IN Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Vol. 15, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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