Input or intimacy

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Judit Navracsics


According to the critical period hypothesis, the earlier the acquisition of a second language starts, the better. Owing to the plasticity of the brain, up until a certain age a second language can be acquired successfully according to this view. Early second language learners are commonly said to have an advantage over later ones especially in phonetic/phonological acquisition. Native-like pronunciation is said to be most likely to be achieved by young learners. However, there is evidence of accentfree speech in second languages learnt after puberty as well. Occasionally, on the other hand, a nonnative accent may appear even in early second (or third) language acquisition. Cross-linguistic influences are natural in multilingual development, and we would expect the dominant language to have an impact on the weaker one(s). The dominant language is usually the one that provides the largest amount of input for the child. But is it always the amount that counts? Perhaps sometimes other factors, such as emotions, ome into play? In this paper, data obtained from an EnglishPersian-Hungarian trilingual pair of siblings (under age 4 and 3 respectively) is analyzed, with a special focus on cross-linguistic influences at the phonetic/phonological levels. It will be shown that beyond the amount of input there are more important factors that trigger interference in multilingual development.


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Author Biography

Judit Navracsics, University of Pannonia, Institute of Applied Linguistics, 8200 Veszprém, Egyetem utca 10 Navracsics took her MA degrees in Russian and English linguistics and literature and her PhD degree in applied linguistics. She is Professor of Linguistics and Head of Institute for Hungarian and Applied Linguistics at the University of Pannonia, Veszprém, Hungary. She is the Chair of Pannon Language Examination Centre and the Chair of the Organizing Committee of the Summer School of Psycholinguistics held annually in Balatonalmádi, Hungary. She does research into bi- and multilingualism. She is the author and editor of books and articles on early multilingual development, early second language acquisition, the bilingual mental lexicon and bilingual word recognition and sentence comprehension.


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