How does one child acquire and use two different languages? Children who are raised bilingually usually know which language they should speak to a person and it is not always obvious that these children are bilingual.
However, there are noticeable differences between bilingual children and their monolingual peers. For example, ‘de beker van Sharon’ is a common Dutch expression, which could be literally translated as ‘the cup of Sharon’. Although this is not wrong, English native speakers would hardly ever use this expression. They would say ‘Sharon’s cup’. This is an example of the structure of one language being incorporated into another.
Influence of one language on the other
The aim of the 2in1 project is to examine how a bilingual child’s languages affect each other and the circumstances under which this occurs. Until now, this issue was primarily examined in bilingual adults. The project will also investigate whether the effect between languages is the same for all language combinations. And ask whether this depends on which two languages the child learns, which language is dominant in his/her environment, or how proficient the child is in both languages.
The project will focus on children between three and ten years of age, who are growing up in families where German, English, Greek or Turkish is spoken. The researchers are now also focusing on what happens after this age, specifically in adolescents and adults aged between 15 to 40 who have grown up speaking Dutch and German or Dutch and English.