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Throughout the preceding sections we have discussed the main results obtained in our analysis of the participants’ written productions with a view to determining their command of L2 German at the onset of the study and ensuing progress in their attainment of the target grammar. We have also sought to identify the scope and status of language contact phenomena in the written German productions. For this dual purpose, we have used the diagnostic criteria established in section

4.2.4 and the descriptive framework of the main properties of German and DGS elaborated in section 3.1 and 4.1 respectively.

We turn next to a more global evaluation of the insights obtained in the light of current hypotheses in the domains of developmental linguistics and bilingual?ism research.[1] Our focus will be on the major developmental milestones identified and the scope of intra-individual variation observed for each developmental stage, including potential candidates for language mixing. As we proceed we will see that the individual developmental profiles sketched also provide evidence of variation at the inter-individual level: participants vary as to how far they advance during the two years covered in this study indicating that their development proceeds at a different pace.

The section is structured as follows. We will focus first on the participants’ use of elementary structural domains and the spectrum of variation observed at the VP level (section 4.11.1). Subsequently, we turn to evidence for structurebuilding and the expansion of the VP by an additional structural layer (section 4.11.2). Finally, we will discuss the participants’ attainment of V2, and the expansion of the IP by an additional structural layer, the CP (section 4.11.3). We will also delve on the role of language contact at each of these developmental stages. For ease of reference, the sketch of the acquisition tasks elaborated in section 4.2.4 is provided here again in Table 4.19.

Table 4.19: Acquisition of German: linguistic areas and related structures, processes, and properties (dotted lines indicate areas at the focus of the analysis).


Processes / properties



  • - point-of-view(complex clauses, direct / indirect quotation)
  • - XP or subject-drop in sentence-initial position
  • - co-reference

i Syntax

  • - interrogation, subordination (CP-level) i
  • - XP topicalisation (V2), finiteness distinction (IP-level)
  • (verb raising), feature checking |
  • - projection of categorial-thematic structure (VP-level)

i Morphology

- inflection morphology (person, number, tense, mood) i

1 Lexicon

- distinction of thematic (main) / non-thematic (copula, auxiliary, l modal) verbs

  • [1] As indicated previously, a preliminary summary of the findings obtained was advanced anddiscussed in Plaza-Pust (2008). In the present work, we have further elaborated and expandedthe assumptions put forward in that publication.
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