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Jakarta Field Station > Projects > Acquisition

Bilingual Child Language Acquisition

In this project the acquisition of bilingualism by various children in different linguistic environment is studied. One subproject investigates an Italian/Indonesian situation, and another an Indonesian/Javanese bilingual setting.

In the first subproject, the acquisition of bilingualism of two children, Guglielmo and Beatrice, is studied. While their mother is a native speaker of Italian, their father is Indonesian. Although they live in a largely Indonesian-speaking environment, they are exclusively addressed by their mother in Italian. It represents a case study of unbalanced bilingualism and focuses on the development of a number of morphosyntactic patterns. It tries to identify cross-linguistic structures in quantitative and qualitative perspectives and hypothesizes theoretical explanations for cross-linguistic influence and the gradual emergence of correct usage of Italian and Indonesian grammatical structures.

The children were video-recorded on a weekly basis. Sessions alternate between predominantly Indonesian with the father, predominantly Italian with the mother, and mixed. For each child, the recordings began at the age of 8 months and stopped when the children were 4 and 6 years respectively. In addition, a diary study was conducted, focussing on utterances exhibiting a mixture of Indonesian and Italian forms. Topics analysed include the acquisition of negation and the study of mixed forms produced by the bilingual child, the acquisition of Wh-forms and of temporal markers.

Further, the acquisition of bilingualism by Ramzi is studied. Although both parents of Ramzi are natives of East Java, his mother speaks to him in Indonesian while his father speaks to him in Javanese. The child was video-recorded on a weekly basis.

Project members

Antonia Soriente

Dini Andarini


Soriente Antonia, 2014. "Language development of bilingual children The acquisition of tense and aspect in an Italian-Indonesian child: A case study" in Wacana. Jounal of the Humanities of Indonesia Jakarta, 15, 1: 131-164.

Soriente Antonia, 2011 "Patterns of negation in an Indonesian-Italian bilingual child". In Linguistica Zero 4/2011: 158-208. Web:

Soriente, Antonia. 2007. "Cross-linguistic and cognitive aspects in the acquisition of WH-questions in an Italian-Indonesian bilingual child" in Kesckes I. & L. Albertazzi (eds.) Cognitive aspects of bilingualism. Dordrecht; Springer: 325-362.

Soriente, Antonia 2006. "Dominance and language choice in an Indonesian-Italian bilingual child" in Vliegen, M. (ed.) .Variation in Sprachtheorie und Spracherwerb Akten des 39. Linguistischen Kolloquiums in Amsterdam 2004.

Soriente, Antonia, 2004. "Pemerolehan negasi dari seorang anak dwibahasa Italia-Indonesia". in Katharina E.Sukamto (ed.) KOLITA 2 Konferensi Linguistik Tahunan Atma Jaya. Jakarta.

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