30-ModyanovaBUCLD2005.pdf - The Genitive of Negation...

This preview shows page 1 - 2 out of 12 pages.

- 1 - The Genitive of Negation Construction in Russian-English Bilinguals Nadya Modyanova Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University College London 1. Introduction How does near-native proficiency and extensive exposure to a second language (L2) affect knowledge of a first language (L1) ? In adults, the withering away of aspects of a first language or attrition has been documented whenever there was a diminished use of L1 in conjunction with predominant use of L2 (e.g. Sorace 2000, Polinksy 1996), which in extreme cases resulted in complete loss of L1 knowledge. The present study asked what properties of L1 would be attrited or not learned when a child mostly uses and hears L2, and what other environmental factors influence the state of a child’s knowledge. Given that the generative grammar tradition assumes that languages are determined by universal principles and language-specific parameters (set on the basis of abundant input (e.g. Smith & Cormack 2002)), we explore the hypothesis that idiosyncratic properties of L1 would be less known relative to properties shared between L1 and L2. It is important to note that distinction between attrition and lack of learning is harder to make in children than in adults. If an adult has fully learned their L1, then learned L2, and later it turns out that some aspects of L1 have disappeared from the adult’s language, then clearly this is an instance of forgetting/attrition. What about a child still learning L1 and beginning to learn L2? The child may not have had a chance to learn some aspect of L1, and then, of course, this child will not use this aspect of L1 in virtue of not knowing it. This distinction is something to keep in mind for later discussion. This paper looks at how initially Russian-speaking children continue acquiring Russian language in the surroundings of English language. English and Russian differ greatly in their respective grammars. For example, Russian allows sentences without subjects, whereas English does not; Russian has a rich case system on nouns unlike English. Specifically, the Genitive of Negation construction will be studied, but along with it usage of other cases will be investigated. It is predicted that either English grammar will become (partially) imposed on Russian grammar, in other words, while Russian words will still be used in sentences, the grammar of the sentences may resemble that of English; or, alternatively, idiosyncratic aspects of Russian will be lost. The aim of the study is to discover whether the languages interact and whether English influences Russian, if at all; and whether any currently available linguistic theories can explain what is going on. 2. Russian and Genitive of Negation 1 One of the ways that Russian, a language with relatively free word order, rich morphology and no articles, chooses to mark (non)specificity of arguments is by use of morphological case.

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture