Pronominal objects in English-Italian and Spanish-Italian bilingual children

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Authors:
  • Ludovica Serratrice
  • Antonella Sorace
  • Francesca Filiaci
  • Michela Baldo


This study investigated the role of typological relatedness, language of the community, and age, in predicting similarities and differences between English-Italian, Spanish-Italian bilingual children and their monolingual child and adult counterparts in the acceptability of pre-and postverbal object pronouns in [-focus] contexts in Italian and in English. Cross-linguistic influence occurred in [-focus] contexts as a function of typological relatedness and language of the community. English-Italian bilinguals in the UK accepted pragmatically inappropriate postverbal pronouns in [-focus] contexts in Italian twice as often as all the other groups. Cross-linguistic influence was unidirectional from English to Italian as shown by the categorical rejection of preverbal pronouns in [-focus] contexts in English. In [+focus] contexts, in English no significant differences existed between the monolinguals and the bilinguals in the low accuracy with which they chose pragmatically appropriate stressed pronouns. Similarly, the choice of appropriate pronouns in [+focus] contexts in Italian was problematic for monolingual and bilingual children irrespective of the language of the community and of the bilingualsâ ™ other language. Age was a factor only for the Italian children who approached adultlike performance in [+focus] contexts only by the age of 10. These findings point to the need for a multifaceted approach to account for similarities and differences between the linguistic behavior of bilingual and monolingual children. © 2012 Cambridge University Press.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-751
Number of pages26
JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012