Institut für Linguistik: Anglistik

The acquisition of Voice alternations by bilingual children (Greek-German) DFG -Projekt AL 554/7-1
The project is located at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin since October 2015.

Principal investigator:

Prof. Dr. Artemis Alexiadou

Postdoc researcher:

Dr. Katerina Zombolou

Research assistants:

Kerstin Hohmann
Elisavet Felekidou
Kiana Naghshineh
Miron Papadopoulos
Christos Papatzalas
Anselm Pyta
Melanie Siali
Katerina Vintzileou

Cooperation partners
in Greece:

Prof. Dr. Spyridoula Varlokosta
University of Athens

Prof. Dr. Arhonto Terzi
Technological Educational
Institute of Patras

1. Abstract

2. Empirical studies

3. Publications  


1. Abstract

This project investigates the acquisition of Voice alternations by bilingual German-Greek speaking children living in Stuttgart, Germany, as well as by monolingual German and Greek speaking children (aged 3-6 years). Specifically, the project focuses on the acquisition of reflexives "The boy combs himself", reciprocals "The children comb each other", anticausatives "The ice-cream melts" and passives "The fire was extinguished by the firemen".

The main goal of the project is to find out whether bilingual children acquire the linguistic structures in question similarly to monolingual children and/or whether the one language accelerates or complicates the acquisition of the other language. For bilingual acquisition, it is important to know whether bilingual children exposed to the German language later in life (sequential bilinguals) are confronted with more acquisition difficulties than those being exposed to German from birth on (simultaneous bilinguals). For this reason, we also investigate age-of-onset effects.

Last but not least, in order to be able to better understand and explain the child development it is important to compare child language with adult language (language input). For this reason, we do not only collect children data but also data from their parents as well as from their kindergarten teachers. The results of this project will enable us to make useful suggestions concerning pedagogical materials in teaching German for bilingual/multilingual children, facilitating thereby communication and social integration.

This is the first study investigating the German-Greek population in German speaking areas and generally one of the few studies dealing with bilingual Greek speaking children elsewhere. In addition, this study is one of the first studies that focuses on the input of kindergarten teachers as well as one of the first studies investigating the development of the two languages of the bilinguals simultaneously.  


2. Empirical studies

Data will be collected from both (monolingual and bilingual) children (aged 3-6 years) and adults (parents or kindergarten teachers) via three different methods: longitudinal studies (n=8), elicited production tests (n=320) and comprehension tests (n=320), for all age groups and  types of bilingualism.

For the purposes of the longitudinal studies, data will be collected while children and parents and/or kindergarten teachers communicate with each other.

For the purposes of the elicited and comprehension tests, participants will be presented pictures and/or video-clips demonstrating actions on the laptop e.g. a girl is combing herself. For the elicited tests, for example, participants will be then asked to reply to questions like "what is the girl doing?" An example of such a video-clip can be watched here.    


3. Publications

Conference presentations

  • Zombolou, K. & A. Alexiadou. 2014a. The acquisition of Voice alternations by bilingual children (Greek-German) Project. Presented at the International Congress "Die Hundert Sprachen der Kinder", Stuttgart, Liederhalle, 9-10 October 2014, Ministerium für Kultus, Jugend und Sport Baden-Württemberg & Landeshauptstadt Stuttgart. http://hundert-sprachen.de
  • Zombolou, K. & A.Alexiadou. 2014b. Acquiring verbal idiosyncrasy in heritage Greek. Paper presented at the Conference “IGG40 Italian Generative Grammar Meeting”, University of Trento, 13-15 February 2014.
  • Alexiadou, A. and K. Zombolou. 2013a. Early German-Greek bilingual Voice acquisition. Paper presented at the Conference Parallel grammars and multilingualism, October 16-18, 2013. University of NTNU-Trondheim, Norway.  http://www.ntnu.edu/multilingualism
  • Zombolou, K. and A. Alexiadou. 2012a. Early Voice Acquisition of Heritage Greek in Germany. Conference on Formal Approaches to Heritage Language. University of Massachusetts. http://www.umass.edu/larc/events/fahl2012/
  • Zombolou, K. and A. Alexiadou. 2012c. Anticausatives and Reflexives acquisition by L1-German children versus 2L1s heritage children in Germany with Russian, Turkish and Greek immigration background. Paper presented at the Workshop “Heritage Languages in Germany”, November 24, 2012, University of Stuttgart. http://ifla.uni-stuttgart.de/index.php?article_id=152&clang=0