Cross-linguistic Influence

Although most research supports the dual language system hypothesis, the two languages still interact during development. When the two languages interact with each other, they cause a transfer of grammatical properties from one language to the next. A great example of this is illustrated when a child moves the placement of a subject or an object based on the rules from one language into a sentence uttered in the other language- the word order was changed. For example, a French-English bilingual child might state: ‘the baby drink not the milk.’ In French, the ‘not’ is placed after the main verb, where in English it wouldn’t be placed there. If this happens consistently, we can assume that the child’s English grammar skills acquired a French grammar rule. There are also subtle cross-linguistic effects like the omission of subjects before verbs in Spanish-English speaking children. One explanation for this phenomenon is a child’s dominant proficiency in a language can cross linguistically influence the non-dominant language. This is not the same as unitary language system because the resulting utterance does not result from the blending of languages. They are not permanent in a child’s language; it is just a part of the developmental process (Crago et al., 2011).