- Trends in bilingual acquisition ed. by Jasone Cenoz, and Fred Genesee
As we are told in the ‘Preface’, this volume heralds a new series launched by John Benjamins called “Trends in language acquisition research”, which is also an official publication of the International Association for the Study of Child Language (IASCL). In this volume, a collection of papers presented at the 1999 IASCL Congress in San Sebastián, Spain, the editors aim to introduce the reader to the current state of bilingualism research. In the ‘First words’, Fred Genesee and Jasone Cenoz review the past and present of research on bilingual acquisition and the contents of the nine chapters that follow.
In Ch. 1, Jürgen M. Meisel discusses early differentiation and subsequent development of grammars in the simultaneous acquisition of two first languages. The topic of language differentiation is also the focus of Chs. 3 and 4; Laura Bosch and Núria Sebastián-Gallés, in ‘Early language differentiation in bilingual infants’, account for infants’ abilities to speak and perceive language during the first months of life, followed by Diane Poulin-Dubois and Naomi Goodz, who examine the distribution of consonants in the babbling productions of 12-monthold French-English bilingual infants in ‘Language differentiation in bilingual infants: Evidence from babbling’. In Ch. 2, Ludovica Serratrice shows ‘The emergence of verbal morphology and the leadlag pattern issue in bilingual acquisition’ as evidenced in a case study of an English-Italian bilingual child. In Ch. 5, Margareta Almgren and Itziar Idiazabal investigate ‘Past tense verb forms, discourse context and input features in bilingual and monolingual acquisition of Basque and Spanish’.
In Ch. 6, ‘Finding first words in the input: Evidence from a bilingual child’, Elena Nicoladis focuses on whether the mind of a bilingual child has some bias in the early learning of words, showing that the perceptual salience of the ends of utterances and the meaning of words, among other factors, play an essential role in the acquisition of the first words. In Ch. 7, ‘Managing linguistic boundaries in early [End Page 836] trilingual development’, Suzanne Quay reports on an ongoing project examining how a child exposed to German, English, and Japanese at the same time develops his language capacities, and argues for integrating various methods in such research.
In Ch. 8, ‘Bilingual first language acquisition: A discourse perspective on language contact in parentchild interaction’, Elizabeth Lanza presents a case study of a two-year-old bilingual child in an effort to account for language socialization in the discourse of bilingual first language acquisition. In Ch. 9, ‘Bilingual children’s repair strategies during dyadic communication’, Liane Comeau and Fred Genesee explore bilingual children’s communicative and pragmatic competence by investigating how the children repair their utterances when communication with monolingual adults breaks down. In the ‘Last words’ Brian MacWhinney focuses on three main traditions of childhood bilingualism with reference to the various chapters of this volume.
The topic of language acquisition is a complex one. The case is equally if not more complex for bilingual or multilingual acquisition. The present volume explores various important topics pertaining to bilingual acquisition, morphological, semantic, communicative, and pragmatic, among others. This collection of papers has done an admirable job of presenting the current state of research on bilingual acquisition and should be welcomed by those interested in language acquisition. However, since several chapters of this volume are case studies based on relatively small data sets, it is little wonder that the conclusions drawn are less convincing and that much work remains to be done.