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Language Maintenance – Language Attrition

The Case of Polish Children in Sweden


Roman Laskowski

The monograph, based on broad studies into the Polish diaspora in Sweden, provides a picture of the social factors influencing the maintenance of the heritage language and culture by the second generation of emigrants. The author’s main objective, however, is to discover the systemic mechanisms underlying language acquisition by children in a bilingual setting and to investigate the influence of the interference from the dominant language on the acquisition of Polish. A particular attention is devoted to the category of case, which is absent from Swedish. Although it, generally, represents a description of a particular linguistic material, in fact the book addresses problems of the theory of language acquisition. The results and conclusions enable a better understanding of the universal semiotic and psychological principles that motivate the structure of the grammatical system of a natural language.
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Chapter 1 The phonological system


Polish children in Sweden often manifest deficiencies in their Polish phonological system.108 This particularly applies to the system of fricative and affricate consonants, since a clash of the elaborate Polish affricate/fricative system (12 phonemes) with the simple Swedish system of only three voiceless sibilants /s/, /ɕ/, /ʂ/ causes serious delays, and sometimes even change of order, in the acquisition of the consonants. For example, a 9-year-old child has only four fricative sibilants /s/, /z/, /ɕ/, /ʑ/ (lacking all affricates and a number of alveolar consonants, though having the voiced/voiceless contrast):

a)    s  z        ɕ  ʑ

Despite having the affricates /t͡s/ /d͡z/ (along with the dental fricatives /s/ and /z/), the idiolect of another, 7-year-old, child lacks a series of alveolar and palatal consonants:

b)    s   z

       t͡s d͡z

A 13-year-old child’s consonant system includes both the fricatives and the affricates, as well as the voiced/voiceless contrast, yet it lacks a number of alveolar consonants:

c)    s   z        ɕ  ʑ

       t͡s d͡z      t͡ɕ d͡ʑ

Another idiolect (of an 11-year-old) lacks a series of palatal consonants despite the well-developed sets of dental and alveolar consonants:

d)    s  z          ʂ  ʐ

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