Now showing 1 - 3 of 3
  • Publication
    Acquiring an opaque gender system in Irish, an endangered indigenous language
    An in-depth examination of the acquisition of grammatical gender has not previously been conducted for Irish, an endangered indigenous language now typically acquired simultaneously with English, or as L2. Children acquiring Irish must contend with the opacity of the Irish gender system and the plurifunctionality of the inflections used to mark it, while also experiencing early exposure to the majority language and variability in amount and consistency of adult input in Irish. Data were collected from 306 participants aged 6–13 years, including information on home language background which allowed children to be categorised as being from homes which were Irish-dominant, bilingual, or English-dominant. Novel measures of receptive and productive use of grammatical gender were developed to test children’s understanding and production of gender marking. A standard multiple regression conducted which accounted for 39.5% of the variance showed that language background was the strongest predictor of accuracy in marking grammatical gender assignment and agreement. The later stages of acquisition of semantic and grammatical gender have not previously been investigated in Irish, and the implications for researchers, policy makers, educators and parents are discussed.
      467Scopus© Citations 18
  • Publication
    Minority language ownership and authority: perspectives of native speakers and new speakers
    (Taylor and Francis, 2016-01-12) ;
    The Irish language is a minority language undergoing the attenuation and accelerated change commonly seen as threatened languages come under increasing pressure from the dominant language. The decline of the numbers of traditional speakers and growing numbers of L2 speakers of Irish has given rise to some contested spaces regarding authenticity, accuracy and ownership of the language, as well as who has the right to produce and distribute the resources associated with/generated by the language. This study explored the attitudes and experiences of native and high-proficiency L2 speakers (‘new speakers’) of Irish with respect to these issues. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 17 Irish speakers, 7 young adult native speakers (four female, aged 18–26 years) and 10 young adult high-proficiency new speakers (six female, aged 19–31). Thematic Analysis showed a significant decline, in the view of both groups, in the confidence and authority of native speakers of Irish, and a change to a view among both groups that goodwill and commitment to the language's maintenance is more important than linguistic accuracy. The commonalities and differences between the native speaker and new speaker groups are explored, and the implications for the future of Irish are considered.
      1068Scopus© Citations 26
  • Publication
    Assessing children’s proficiency in a minority language: Exploring the relationships between home language exposure, test performance and teacher and parent ratings of school-age Irish-English bilinguals
    (Taylor & Francis, 2019-05-29) ;
    There can be significant diversity in the language experience of minority language children, and in the levels of proficiency reached. The declining numbers of children now exposed to Irish include those from homes where only/mainly Irish is spoken, those with only one Irish-speaking parent, and children from homes where one/both parent(s) speak ‘some Irish’, while levels of language use in the wider community also vary widely. The proficiency of children from Irish-speaking homes seems impressive compared with their L2 learner classmates, but still shows particular linguistic needs. Since acquisition of complex morphosyntactic features depends on both the quantity and quality of input, and extends well into the school years, assessing children’s performance on features such as grammatical gender may provide a useful index of need for language enrichment, even among young speakers judged by teachers and parents to be fluent. We report data from 306 Irish-speaking participants aged 6–13 years from a range of language backgrounds, most of whom live in Gaeltacht (officially designated Irish-speaking) areas. Information was collected from parents on children’s home language and new measures of receptive and productive use of grammatical gender marking in Irish were administered. Performance on these measures is compared with scores on standardised measures of Irish and English reading vocabulary, as well as teacher and parent ratings.
      589Scopus© Citations 10