On the direction of cross-linguistic influence in the acquisition of object clitics in French and Italian

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Placement errors of object clitics (OCL) in French have been documented in 2L1 and L2 but not in L1 acquisition (Granfeldt, 2012; Hamann & Belletti, 2006). In the present study, we investigate whether placement errors of third person singular OCLs may be due to cross-linguistic influence. We exposed bilingual children (successive L1 French/L2 Italian and L1 Italian/L2 French and simultaneous 2L1 Italian/French) to an OCL elicitation task. The results showed significant differences between the 2L1 and L2 groups in comparison with the L1 groups, and between the languages, thus corroborating the findings of previous studies. Production accuracy of OCLs in general was highest in L1, and higher in Italian than in French. However, OCL placement errors were found in 2L1 French and L2 Italian as well as in the L1 French of children who had Italian as L2. These findings suggest that cross-linguistic influence is bidirectional (Foroodi-Nejad & Paradis, 2009; Chenjie Gu, 2010; Nicoladis, 1999). We discuss these results in relation to the proposal that cross-linguistic influence should occur only in one direction, i.e. only in one language, and only under certain conditions (Hulk & Müller, 2000; Müller & Hulk, 2001).


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-233
Number of pages30
JournalLIA Language, Interaction and Acquisition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication categoryResearch