Authors Name: 
Sandra Lukic
University of Edinburgh
Languages & Linguistics
Award winner

‘A Slovene to Serbians, a Serb to Slovenes’ First Language Attrition: Differences Between the First and the Second Generation of Serbian-Slovene Bilinguals

The present study investigates the differences in the effects of native language attrition between the first and the second generation of Serbian-Slovene bilinguals. Its main objective is to determine the areas of grammar that are more susceptible to attrition for a specific type of a bilingual speaker, as research has shown that, in consecutive bilingual children, attrition can lead to complete loss of the mother tongue, whereas for late bilinguals, it is most commonly manifested in the lexicon, while grammar remains relatively stable. Only linguistic phenomena at the syntax-semantics interface were shown to be vulnerable to attrition, since bilingualism can lead to underspecification of constraints and optionality in the grammar. By analysing both bilingual generations’ use of anaphoric pronouns and comparing their inflectional marking of grammatical number with respect to the possible crosslinguistic transfer of Slovene dual paradigms to Serbian morphology, this study demonstrates that the interface between syntax and semantics is attrited in both groups of bilinguals, while morphology and syntax are affected only in the language of second-generation speakers. These results confirm the general findings of the negative effects of bilingualism on anaphora resolution, underline the pivotal role of attrited input, and highlight the importance of acknowledging the differences between simultaneous and late bilingual speakers in studies of language attrition.