This study aims to analyse facilitatory and inhibitory effects of bilingualism on first language acquisition of prosody. The speech rhythm produced by Spanish–English 2-, 4- and 6-year-old bilinguals was analysed acoustically and compared to adult and child monolingual baselines. Our results demonstrate that despite an even-timed bias for the production of vocalic materials also found for monolinguals, bilinguals do not show the anticipated uneven-timed bias in their consonant interval production. Bilinguals therefore follow a different developmental path from monolinguals with two rhythmically distinct languages at early stages of language acquisition. Rhythmic acquisition is characterized by language interaction, which leads to faster mastery of consonant interval durations, especially in the structurally more complex language, English. We argue that the interaction of languages in bilinguals and the subsequent transfer provides a developmental advantage to bilingual children leading to more fine-tuned motor control, and possibly more stable mental representations. We place the results in the context of the dynamic systems theory, which has the interaction of language subsystems as its main tenet.
|Title of host publication||Prosody and language in contact|
|Subtitle of host publication||L2 acquisition, attrition and languages in multilingual situations|
|Editors||Elisabeth Delais-Roussarie, Mathieu Avanzi, Sophie Herment|
|Place of Publication||Berlin|
|Publisher||Springer, Springer Nature|
|Number of pages||21|
|Publication status||Published - 2015|