Monique Flecken


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  • Flecken, M. (2011). Assessing bilingual attainment: macrostructural planning in narratives. International Journal of Bilingualism, 15(2), 164-186. doi:10.1177/1367006910381187.


    The present study addresses questions concerning bilinguals’ attainment in the two languages by investigating the extent to which early bilinguals manage to apply the information structure required in each language when producing a complex text. In re-narrating the content of a film, speakers have to break down the perceived series of dynamic situations and structure relevant information into units that are suited for linguistic expression. The analysis builds on typological studies of Germanic and Romance languages which investigate the role of grammaticized concepts in determining core features in information structure. It takes a global perspective in that it focuses on factors that determine information selection and information structure that hold in macrostructural terms for the text as a whole (factors driving information selection, the temporal frame used to locate events on the time line, and the means used in reference management). A first comparison focuses on Dutch and German monolingual native speakers and shows that despite overall typological similarities, there are subtle though systematic differences between the two languages in the aforementioned areas of information structure. The analyses of the bilinguals focus on their narratives in both languages, and compares the patterns found to those found in the monolingual narratives. Findings show that the method used provides insights into the individual bilingual’s attainment in the two languages and identifies either balanced levels of attainment, patterns showing higher degrees of conformity with one of the languages, as well as bilingual-specific patterns of performance.
  • Flecken, M. (2011). Event conceptualization by early Dutch-German bilinguals: Insights from linguistic and eye-tracking data. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 14(1), 61-77. doi:10.1017/S1366728910000027.


    This experimental study investigates event construal by early Dutch–German bilinguals, as reflected in their oral depiction of everyday events shown in video clips. The starting point is the finding that the expression of an aspectual perspective (progressive aspect), and its consequences for event construal, is dependent on the extent to which means are grammaticalized, as in English (e.g., progressive aspect) or not, as in German (von Stutterheim & Carroll, 2006). The present study shows that although speakers of Dutch and German have comparable means to mark this aspectual concept, at a first glance at least, they differ markedly both in the contexts as well as in the extent to which this aspectual perspective is selected, being highly frequent in specific contexts in Dutch, but not in German. The present experimental study investigates factors that lead to the use of progressive aspect by early bilinguals, using video clips (with different types of events varied along specific dimensions on a systematic basis). The study includes recordings of eye movements, and examines how far an aspectual perspective drives allocation of attention during information intake while viewing the stimulus material, both for and while speaking. Although the bilinguals have acquired the means to express progressive aspect in Dutch, their use shows a pattern that differs from monolingual Dutch speakers. Interestingly, these differences are reflected in different patterns in the direction of attention (eye movements) when verbalizing information on events.
  • Flecken, M. (2011). What native speaker judgments tell us about the grammaticalization of a progressive aspectual marker in Dutch. Linguistics, 49(3), 479-524. doi:10.1515/LING.2011.015.


    This paper focuses on native speaker judgments of a construction in Dutch that functions as a progressive aspectual marker (aan het X zijn, referred to as aan het-construction) and represents an event as in progression at the time of speech. The method was chosen in order to investigate how native speakers assess the scope and conditions of use of a construction which is in the process of grammaticalization. It allows for the inclusion of a large group of participants of different age groups and an investigation of potential age-related differences. The study systematically covers a range of temporal variables that were shown to be relevant in elicitation and corpus-based studies on the grammaticalization of progressive aspect constructions. The results provide insights into the selectional preferences and constraints of the aan het-construction in contemporary Dutch, as judged by native speakers, and the extent to which they correlate with production tasks.

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