Speech Production of Trilingual Children: A Study on Their Transfers in Terms of Content and Function Words and the Effect of Their L1

  •  Fotini Anastassiou    
  •  Georgia Andreou    


The present study investigated the speech production of trilingual children whose L1 was either Greek or Albanian and their L3 was English. Since this specific combination of languages has not been widely studied in current literature this study can contribute to our knowledge and the teaching of these children. Moreover, research into transfers from content and function words could help us comprehend the different roles word classes have in trilingual speakers since Paradis (2009) has suggested that the tendency to transfer function words from L2, rather than from L1, into L3 supports the idea that content words and function words have the same status in an L2 but not in L1. Also, although content words are often transferred from both L1 and L2 into L3, studies have indicated that function words are mainly transferred from the L2 and not from the L1 (Ringbom, 1987; Sjögren, 2000; Stedje, 1977). The aim of this study was to find out the source language of our participants’ transfers, whether there would be any influence of our speakers’ L1 or L2 on Content and Function words, as well as whether cross-linguistic influence had any effect on Content and Function words, following Cenoz (2001).The participants of our study were asked to narrate a picture story in their third language and the main source of their transfers was surveyed. Also, the ratio of Content to Function words and the effect of the children’s L1 was investigated since former research showed function words are mainly transferred from the L2 and not from the L1. The results of this study showed that the main source of transfer was Greek (whether as an L1 or an L2) and that the children’s transfers were mainly from content words. Finally, the ratio of Greek content/ function words was found to be greater for those children whose L1 is Greek compared to the children whose L1 is Albanian.

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