A Four-Year Longitudinal Comparative Study on the Lexicon Development of Russian and Turkish Heritage Speakers in Germany

Sophia Czapka, Nathalie Topaj, Natalia Gagarina
2021 Languages  
Russian and Turkish are the most frequently spoken and intensively investigated heritage languages in Germany, but contrastive research on their development in early childhood is still missing. This longitudinal study compares the trajectories of expressive lexicon development in Russian (n = 70) and Turkish (n = 79) heritage speakers and identifies predictors for their lexicon size at preschool age. Heritage lexicon size was tested with two comparable tests assessing the expressive lexicon at
more » ... our test points between the mean ages of 3.3 (range: 25–49 months) and 5.6 (range: 54–78 months) years. The influence of language-related factors, such as input quantity, parents' heritage language proficiency and age of onset (AoO) of German, and other potential predictors, i.e., intelligence and socio-economic status, is evaluated. Results show that the Turkish group's abilities grow slower but are similar at the last test point. Common predictors for lexicon size are input quantity from siblings and AoO. Group-specific influences are parental input quantity in the Russian group and siblings' proficiency in the Turkish group. Our findings emphasize the interplay of input quantity and society language AoO for heritage lexicon development. The relevance of our results for the usage-based theory of language acquisition is discussed.
doi:10.3390/languages6010027 fatcat:mamopryi6vgy7kmcpebetjnzru