Bilingual Norwegian-Russian Children in North Norway: Language Acquisition and Language Use

Project members: Marit Westergaard and Yulia Rodina

Funding sources: Tromsø Research Foundation 2012/2013

This project investigates language use and certain linguistic characteristics of Norwegian-Russian children living in Tromsø and Alta. The main focus of the study is on how various input factors influence the acquisition of two different grammatical gender systems in Norwegian-Russian children. We use elicited production techniques to collect linguistic data from bilingual children as well as monolingual controls. The children’s background in terms of language exposure will be collected by means of a novel type of questionnaire, the Utrecht Bilingual Language Exposure Calculator (UBiLEC) (Unsworth 2013), which allows the computation of a Cumulative Index of Exposureon the basis of a fine-grained analysis of quantitative and qualitative factors.

In 2012 we gave two presentations for a general audience about the advantages of bilingualism for the Norwegian-Russian communities in Alta and Tromsø:

‘Один мозг + два языка = много преимуществ!’ (One brain + two languages = many advantages!) Alta, November 2012 (Yulia Rodina)

‘O преимуществах билингвизма: Больше чем два языка!’ (Advantages of bilingualism: More than just two languages!) Seminar for Norwegian-Russian parents in Tromsø, November 2012 (Yulia Rodina and Natalia Mitrofanova)

In 2013 the scholarly results of the project have been published in a book volume and presented at four international conferences:

Rodina, Yulia & Marit Westergaard. 2013. ‘Two gender systems in one mind: The acquisition of grammatical gender in Norwegian-Russian bilinguals.’ In: Siemund, P., Gogolin, I., Schulz, M.E., Davydova, Ju. (Eds.), Multilingualism and Language Diversity in Urban Areas: Acquisition – Development – Teaching – Communication, Vol. 2, John Benjamins, pp. 95-126.

Conference presentations:

On the role of input in bilingual Norwegian/Russian acquisition of grammatical gender, Scandinavian Conference in Linguistics (CSL25), Reykjavik, May 2013 (Yulia Rodina and Marit Westergaard)

Input factors influencing Norwegian/Russian acquisition of grammatical gender, Child Language Seminar, Manchester, June 2013 (Yulia Rodina and Marit Westergaard)

Gender agreement in bilingual Norwegian/Russian children: The role of input and transparency, Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition (GALA), Oldenburg, September 2013 (Marit Westergaard and Yulia Rodina)

The effect of input and transparency on the acquisition of grammatical gender by bilingual Norwegian-Russian children, Multilingual Individuals and Multilingual Societies (MIMS2), October 2013 (Yulia Rodina and Marit Westergaard)

The NoRus Newsletter (for parents, teachers, etc.) in Norwegian and Russian may be downloaded below: