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THE RELATION BETWEEN CODE DIFFERENTIATION AND LANGUAGE MIXING IN BILINGUAL THREE- TO FOUR-YEAR-OLD CHILDREN

Lenore Arnberg and Peter W. Arnberg
Bilingual Review / La Revista Bilingüe
Vol. 12, No. 1/2 (January-August 1985), pp. 20-32
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25744750
Page Count: 13
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THE RELATION BETWEEN CODE DIFFERENTIATION AND LANGUAGE MIXING IN BILINGUAL THREE- TO FOUR-YEAR-OLD CHILDREN
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Abstract

Research investigating early childhood bilingualism suggests two opposing theories explaining how the child learns to separate the two languages; a one-system theory in which the languages are gradually differentiated and a two-system theory in which the child is able to differentiate the two languages from the earliest stages of linguistic development. Earlier studies have used changes in language mixing patterns as the main source of support for either a one- or a two-system theory. This approach is criticized on the grounds that a decrease in language mixing may reflect both a growing awareness of the difference between the languages as well as other factors such as an increase in the number of translation equivalents. In the present study a different approach was taken, i.e., using other measures of code differentiation and investigating the extent to which these correlated with language mixing. The results showed that children who avoided using their other language in a word test situation when naming pictures of objects which were not known in one of the languages (thus classified as having differentiated the two language) showed significantly less mixing in their speech than children who freely substituted words from their other language for items not known. These results give support for a one-system theory of bilingual language acquisition.

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