- Cross-linguistic influence in bilingualism: In honor of Aafke Hulk ed. by Elma Blom, Leonie Cornips, and Jeannette Schaeffer
The book under review is an edited volume with thirteen chapters by internationally known scholars in the field of multilingualism. The book editors, Elma Blom, Leonie Cornips, and Jeannette Schaeffer, summarize the main findings of each chapter in an introduction. All are devoted to Aafke Hulk, who is one of the most influential language acquisition researchers in the field. Hulk was one of the leading figures in early child bilingualism at a time when nearly all researchers conceived of simultaneous bilingual children as early language separators with respect to grammar and the lexicon, who only sporadically, if at all, show signs of crosslinguistic influence in development. Hulk pleaded for a recognition of the systematic occurrence of such influence under certain conditions (Hulk 2000, Hulk & Müller 2000), derived from the linguistic theory that dominated the field during these days.
Since the year 2000, the field has seen a real boom of studies that test the idea of crosslinguistic influence under certain conditions, with the result that it seems common sense today that the ultimate goal of the simultaneous bilingual child is not the separation of two linguistic systems, but the control of the effects of crosslinguistic influence. If the effect of that influence is negative, by delaying the bilingual child’s acquisition path with regard to the monolingual child, then researchers are interested to see how the bilingual child manages to leave this stage of negative influence. If the effect of that influence is positive, in the sense that the child’s acquisition path is accelerated in comparison with that of a monolingual child, the main question is whether children under different conditions—for example, under successive bilingualism—would experience the same beneficial effects. Delaying effects are commonly attested; accelerating effects are rare, as the research articles of the present book prove once again.
Due to the often-described delaying effects of bilingualism, politics are nowadays concerned with the language competencies of migrants all over Europe. The fear that migrants will not achieve the same competencies in the national language(s) as a nation’s residents is articulated over and over again in the press. Several articles in this book contend with the issue and look at migrant children and adult migrants in the country of migration, all with a focus on the socially dominant language (the Netherlands in the studies of Suzanne Aalberse, Yiwen Zou, and Sible Andringa; Susanne Brouwer, Deniz Özkan, and Aylin C. Küntay; Leonie Cornips and Frans Gregersen; Theodoros Marinis, Vasiliki Chondrogianni, Nada Vasić, Fred Weerman, and Elma Blom; Luisa Meroni, Liz Smeets, and Sharon Unsworth; and Judith Rispens and Elise de Bree; Denmark in the studies of Cornips and Gregersen; France in the studies of Philippe Prévost, Laurice Tuller, Anne Galloux, and Marie-Anne Barthez; Greece in the studies of Marinis, Chondrogianni, Vasić, Weerman, and Blom; and Ianthi Maria Tsimpli, Eleni Peristeri, and Maria Andreou). In each case, the control group is a group of monolingual children who are residents of the country of testing. The fear that migrants will not [End Page 452] achieve the desired competencies is inappropriate; these authors put forward a convincing case for either expected linguistic competencies or competencies altered by the migrant speakers and adopted by the speakers of the socially dominant language.
The delaying effects of bilingualism also worry speech therapists, teachers, and doctors. Some of the above-mentioned chapters compare children with specific language impairment (SLI) to typically developing children who are bilingual (with the abbreviation TD, typically developing). This comparison is...