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French-Dutch bilinguals do not maintain obligatory semantic distinctions: Evidence from placement verbs

Alferink, I., & Gullberg, M. (2014). French-Dutch bilinguals do not maintain obligatory semantic distinctions: Evidence from placement verbs. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 17, 22-37. doi:10.1017/S136672891300028X.
It is often said that bilinguals are not the sum of two monolinguals but that bilingual systems represent a third pattern. This study explores the exact nature of this pattern. We ask whether there is evidence of a merged system when one language makes an obligatory distinction that the other one does not, namely in the case of placement verbs in French and Dutch, and whether such a merged system is realised as a more general or a more specific system. The results show that in elicited descriptions Belgian French-Dutch bilinguals drop one of the categories in one of the languages, resulting in a more general semantic system in comparison with the non-contact variety. They do not uphold the obligatory distinction in the verb nor elsewhere despite its communicative relevance. This raises important questions regarding how widespread these differences are and what drives these patterns
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