Marieke Einfeldt Mechtild Tronnier Tanja Kupisch

Three first languages (3L1) at once: a case study of trilingual consonant development

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This study investigates the development of the consonant inventories of a trilingual child acquiring Standard German, Swiss German and Italian simultaneously to find out whether and how mono- and trilingual acquisition differ. We examine our findings in the light of cross-linguistic interaction (CLI) and language separation in multilingual first language acquisition. To this end, longitudinal trilingual data as well as monolingual control data was analyzed for all three languages. We will discuss the role of language internal factors (markedness, frequency, complexity, typological proximity) for CLI as well as external ones (quantity and quality of input, dominance, metalinguistic awareness). Results speak for an independent development of the three sound systems with little CLI. Some sounds showed accelerated developments, arguably due to higher metalinguistic awareness resulting in advanced articulatory skills


  • early trilingualism
  • phoneme inventor
  • markedness
  • metalinguistic awareness
  • input quantity and quality


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