With bilingual eyes. The conceptualization of motion events in bilingual children
Hanna Solberg Andresen (photo: Nadia Frantsen)
About the project
Research on event construal of motion events show that the way speakers of typologically different languages select and organize the information is rooted in language-specific patterns of grammaticization (von Stutterheim and Nüse 2003). For instance will speakers of aspect languages tend to focus more on the ongoingness of an event: “Two women are walking down the road”, whereas speakers of non-aspect languages tend to have a more holistic perspective: “Zwei Frauen laufen auf einem Feldweg Richtung eines Hauses” (Schmiedtová 2011, Stutterheim and Nüse 2003).
But what happens when children grow up learning two languages with different perspective, or conceptualization, of the same event? Will they acquire two different conceptual systems, one for each language (as is the case for fex. morpho-syntax), or will they build their own, bilingual preference? In other words:
- Will bilingual children with different aspectual systems in their respective languages choose a different perspective when describing motion events in the two languages?
- To what degree do they mention the potential end-points in the two languages?
- And to what extent do they allocate visual attention to the endpoint vs. the ongoing event (eye-movements, measured with eye-tracking)?
These are the questions for my PhD project, where I investigate English-Norwegian bilingual children's descriptions of short video-clips and compare the linguistic data with eye-tracking-data. The project is located at the intersection of the old language – thought-debate and research on transfer and bilingualism.
Professor Anne Golden
Prof. Dr. Barbara Mertins, Technische Universität Dortmund