Effects of first language attrition on heritage language input and ultimate attainment: Two generations of Turkish immigrants in the UK

Creative Commons License

Karayayla T.

in: Lost in Transmission: The role of attrition and input in heritage language development, Bernhard Brehmer,Jeanine Treffers-Daller, Editor, John Benjamins, Amsterdam/Philadelphia , Amsterdam, pp.33-71, 2020

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Publisher: John Benjamins, Amsterdam/Philadelphia 
  • City: Amsterdam
  • Page Numbers: pp.33-71
  • Editors: Bernhard Brehmer,Jeanine Treffers-Daller, Editor


This investigation aimed to provide insights into the controversial debate on the role

that age at onset of bilingualism plays in human language capacity with a focus on

what it entails for first language (L1) attrition. L1 performance of Turkish immigrants

(n = 57) in the United Kingdom with age at onset ranging between 7 and 34 years

was compared to that of Turkish monolingual controls (n = 29) across two linguistic

properties: structural complexity and accent. Findings generally showed that although

the immigrants achieved native-like proficiency with respect to the overall structural

complexity of their L1, this was not the case for accent as those with an earlier age of

onset were less likely to sound like native Turkish speakers. We discuss these findings

in relation to two competing theoretical models of age effects and suggest that attrition

data need to be better accommodated within these models.