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Language Maintenance – Language Attrition

The Case of Polish Children in Sweden

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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 2 The disintegration of the category of case: incomplete acquisition of the accusative

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This chapter will focus on the analysis of problems related to the acquisition of the accusative. Let us first consider the idiolects where the accusative is particularly poorly represented. It must be emphasised, though, that errors in the realisation of the accusative also occur in idiolects other than the ones discussed below; in fact, they occur in the majority of the children studied. What is important is that children with a fairly good command of Polish manifest such errors infrequently, usually as individual mistakes or mispronunciations. Only that part of the material will be analysed below where accusative errors have a systemic source. Three groups of idiolects can roughly be distinguished as far as errors in the use of the accusative are concerned:

1.A > N157 idiolects, where the accusative sg. of feminine and animate masculine nouns as well as the accusative pl. of masculine-personal nouns are (systematically or optionally) realised by a nominative form;

2.A–G > N idiolects, where the accusative of animate masculine and masculine-personal nouns is realised by a nominative form, while the accusative sg. is realised correctly;

3.A–N > G idiolects, showing the opposite tendency, i.e. a tendency to realise the accusative sg. of masculine nouns (as well as neuter nouns and, sometimes, the accusative pl. of non-masculine-personal nouns) by a genitive form.

It should be emphasised, however, that the tendencies described in points 2 and 3 may in fact vary in degree in one idiolect...

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