Dissertation: The Acquisition of Requests among German-English Bilingual Children

The Acquisition of Requests among German-English Bilingual Children

– In englischer Sprache –

PHILOLOGIA – Sprachwissenschaftliche Forschungsergebnisse, Band 212

Hamburg 2016, 386 Seiten
ISBN 978-3-8300-8940-7 (Print & eBook)

Bilingualism, Language Acquisition, Linguistics, Request, Speech Act Theory

about this book

deutsch | english

A significant body of research on bilingualism is available nowadays. Still, little is known concerning the development of pragmatic skills among young children who grow up bilingually. This book addresses this widely neglected topic. It offers a detailed linguistic analysis of the acquisition of direct and indirect requests among 17 German-English bilingual children aged between 1;08 and 10;07. Data was collected in a cross-sectional and a longitudinal study.

Former models belonging to the field of Cross-Cultural and Developmental Pragmatics which order requests according to their degree of indirectness are further developed by abandoning the undifferentiated equating of explicitness and directness as well as implicitness and indirectness. Taking the cognitive effort needed for their interpretation into account, requests are, instead of this, arranged according to their degree of (in)directness, ranging from direct to situationally indirect request strategy types. Furthermore, German-English bilingual children’s acquisition of syntax is described with the help of the Structure-Building Model of Acquisition. Both theories are combined in the newly developed Integrated Approach. This is the first model which allows the analysis and the interpretation of German-English bilingual children’s acquisition of request strategy types. It assumes that the age of onset and the developmental sequence of request strategy types depends on their syntactic complexity and their degree of indirectness.

A major achievement is that the occurrence of nine request strategy types in child language can be validated with the help of the German and English data set. Moreover, the German-English bilingual data confirm the role of syntax and indirectness: The age of onset and the developmental sequence of request strategy types is determined by their linguistic and their inferential complexity. The bilingual acquisition of request strategy types can, therefore, be accounted for by the Integrated Approach.



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