Workshop 4 - Acquisition of Syntax in Close Varieties

Date: Saturday 6 April, 2013

Organizers:Petra Bernardini, Jonas Granfelt, Gisela Håkansson,Tanja Kupisch (all at Lund University)

Contact:Tanja Kupisch

Invited speaker:Jason Rothman, University of Florida

Deadline for submission: November 15, 2012

Notification of acceptance: January 20, 2013

Submission of abstracts:EasyChair                  

  • Much work in the acquisition of syntax and morphology has focused on cross-linguistic differences and/or cross-linguistic influence in two or more typologicallydistinct languages. Acquisition scenarios and comparative studies of typologically similar languages are a comparatively under-researched area, although they raise a number of questions, which have, so far, not been answered or not even been addressed: 
  • How does the acquisition of two typologically similar languages or varieties differ from the acquisition of two typologically distinct languages?
  • Does typological similarity facilitate or inhibit acquisition?
  • In which developmental stage or at what proficiency level is facilitation or inhibition expected to occur?
  • Does typological similarity prevent language attrition and incomplete acquisition? (Polinsky 1997, Montrul 2008)
  • Does typological similarity inhibit language separation in bilingual first language development, as expected under the Autonomy Hypothesis (Meisel 1989, Genesee 1989)?
  • As for factors determining cross-linguistic influence, can typological proximity override language dominance or proficiency?
  • Is perceived typological similarity (Kellermann 1983) more important than linguistic typological similarity? (Rothman 2011)
  • Which (additional) methodological challenges does research on typologically similar languages pose?


The aim of this workshop is to bring together formally-oriented research in the acquisition of syntax and morpho-syntax of two typologically similar languages (e.g. Spanish and Italian or Danish and German) or varieties (e.g. Venetian and standard Italian). We invite contributions concerning all kinds of acquisition scenarios, such as simultaneous bilingualism, early L2 acquisition, adult L2 acquisition, L3 acquisition, and language attrition. Papers dealing with the early bilingual acquisition of mutually understandable languages (or varieties of one language) and L3 acquisition are especially welcome.



Meisel, J. M. (1989). Early differentiation of languages in bilingual children. In K. Hyltenstam & L. K. Obler (eds.), Bilingualism across the lifespan: Aspects of acquisition, maturity and loss, pp. 13–40. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Genesee, F. (1989). Early bilingual development: One language or two? Journal of Child Language 16, 161–179.

Kellerman, E. (1983). Now you see it, now you don’t. In S. Gass & L. Selinker (eds.), Language transfer in language learning, pp. 112–134. Massachusetts: Newbury House Publishers.

Polinsky, M. (1997). American Russian: Language loss meets language acquisition. E.Wayles Browne, N. Dornisch, N. Kondrashowva & D. Ze (eds.), Annual Workshop on Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics: The Cornell Meeting (1995), pp. 370–406. Ann Arbor, MI: Michigan Slavic Publishers.

Montrul, S. (2008). Incomplete Acquisition in Bilingualism. Re-examining the Age Factor. [Series on Studies in Bilingualism] Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Rothman, J. (2011). L3 syntactic transfer selectivity and typological determinacy: the typological primacy model. Second Language Research 27 (1). 107–127.