Journal of Child Language


The acquisition and development of language by bilingual children*

Virginia Volterraa1 and Traute Taeschnera1

a1 Institute of Psychology, C.N.R., Rome, and University of Rome


Analysing the gradual learning process through which a child becomes bilingual from early infancy, three stages can be distinguished: (1) the child has one lexical system which includes words from both languages; (2) the child distinguishes two different lexicons but applies the same syntactic rules to both languages; (3) the child has two linguistic codes, differentiated both in lexicon and in syntax, but each language is exclusively associated with the person using that language. Only at the end of this stage, when the tendency to categorize people in terms of their language decreases, can one say that a child is truly bilingual.

(Received February 22 1977)


[*] Authors' address Istituto di Psicologia, Via dei Monti Tiburtini 509, Rome.