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Romance Languages

Multilingualism and Language Acquisition

Edited By Anna Gudmundson, Laura Álvarez López and Camilla Bardel

This volume contains a collection of papers that deal with Romance linguistics from two broad perspectives: multilingualism and language acquisition. Some of the contributions investigate these phenomena in the light of language contact, language attitudes and code switching in multilingual societies or multilingual families. Others focus on the acquisition of rhythmic patterns, intonation or even emotions in a second language. Many of the contributions present themes related to oral production or speech. The book in itself is multilingual and includes papers written in Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and English.

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Codeswitching by a Trilingual Child During the First Years of Life (Elizaveta Khachaturyan)


Elizaveta Khachaturyan

Codeswitching by a Trilingual Child during the First Years of Life*

Abstract: This paper presents a case study on simultaneous trilingualism. The data consist of speech in Norwegian, Italian and Russian recorded in the home of a trilingual child. Results are discussed both in terms of language-specific properties, which can also explain the input frequency, and the communicative situation.

1. Introduction

Codeswitching (CSW), or the alternate use of two (or more) languages, is a widespread phenomenon that characterizes bilinguals’ speech in different communicative situations and in different periods of life. It is divided into two types depending on the level where it occurs: CSW within a sentence is called intrasentential codeswitching, whereas CSW between sentences is called intersentential codeswitching (MacSwan 2013). Important for the analysis of CSW is the age of the bilingual speaker: The CSW of bilingual children differs from that found in adult bilinguals (e.g., Jisa 2000), and CSW in the first years of life, when the acquisition of two languages is simultaneous, is different from CSW in the speech of older children of preschool and school age (e.g., Hoffmann & Stavans 2007).

The data consist of audio recordings of a girl referred to as “Esther” (the author’s first-born daughter), who was exposed to two languages from birth (Italian from her father and Russian from her mother) and to a third language, Norwegian, in daycare from age 11 months. This study analyses...

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