Singing a different tune in your native language: first language attrition of prosody
de Leeuw, Esther
Scobbie, James M.
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de Leeuw, E., Mennen, I. & Scobbie, J. (2012) Singing a different tune in your native language: first language attrition of prosody, International Journal of Bilingualism, vol. 16, , pp. 101-116,
First language attrition refers to the changes which a first language (L1) undergoes when a second language (L2) is acquired in a context in which L1 use is reduced (Cook, 2003; Kpke, 2004). To date, some studies have focused on complete loss of an L1, for example in the case of children whose contact with their initial language ceased after adoption (Pallier et al., 2003; Ventureyra, Pallier, & Yoo, 2004). Others have investigated more subtle cases in which changes to the L1 occur, although intelligibility remains largely, or completely, unaffected (de Leeuw, Schmid, & Mennen, 2007; Flege, 1987; Flege & Eefting, 1987; Major, 1992; Mennen, 2004). The study at hand belongs to the latter category, comprising a fine phonetic analysis of prosody in 10 late consecutive German-English bilinguals. In general, the results indicate L1 attrition in the intonational alignment of the prenuclear rise. However, interpersonal variation was also evidenced: two bilinguals performed clearly within the English monolingual norm in their German while one bilingual evidenced no L1 attrition. Intrapersonal variation occurred in the form of the start of the prenuclear rise appearing to undergo more L1 attrition than the end. The results are discussed in relation to previous studies suggesting that L1 attrition is less likely to occur in late consecutive bilinguals than in early consecutive bilinguals and, more generally, with regard to transfer and interference.