Language Acquisition and Form in a Bilingual Environment: A Framework for Studying Birdsong in Zones of Sympatry

Authors

  • Prof. Irene M. Pepperberg,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson
    2. Department of English, Millikin University, Decatur
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  • Linda Schinke-Llano

    1. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson
    2. Department of English, Millikin University, Decatur
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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Biological Sciences West, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, U.S.A.

Abstract

Parallels drawn between critical variables (e.g., the effects of live input and social interaction) in first and second language acquisition and, respectively, species-specific and allospecific song learning have led to insights into the vocal behavior of both humans and birds. We propose that these parallels can be extended further. Because studies of human behavior in multilingual environments suggest that the potential for bilingualism and the particular forms of bilingualism that develop may be attributed to specific contextual constraints, we suggest that contextual factors may similarly affect the singing behavior of birds in zones of sympatry. We therefore describe various types of human multilingual behavior, discuss factors that may contribute to the development of such behavior, and describe and predict some appropriate avian parallels.

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