Acquisition of Topic and Focus in English as a Third Language by Spanish/Basque bilinguals

2011 - 2012
Grant Number
Awarded by
Ikerbasque Basque Foundation for Science

This joint project will examine the acquisition of English as a third language by three groups of Basque/Spanish bilinguals: balanced Basque/Spanish bilinguals from birth, Basque/Spanish bilinguals dominant in Basque, and native Spanish–second language Basque speakers. The specific properties under investigation will be the Topic and Focus constructions, which are very similar in Basque and English but different in Spanish. The choice of these constructions, whose acquisition depends on knowledge of the target morphosyntax as well as of the discourse conditions, will allow us to test the predictions of the Interface Hypothesis, an influential hypothesis postulating that such properties will not be acquired successfully. The choice of participant groups will allow us to address the issues of second language transfer to the third language, language dominance in simultaneous bilinguals, and how much linguistic input in the non-dominant language is sufficient so that it can have an effect on the acquisition of the third language.