A Longitudinal Analysis of Catalan, Spanish and English Request Modifiers in Early Third Language Learning

  • Maria-Pilar Safont-JordàEmail author
Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)


According to scholars in the field (Cenoz and Jessner in The study of multilingualism in educational contexts. John Benjamins, pp. 121–138, 2009), the effects of the successive acquisition of two or more languages in early childhood are still under-researched. The case study we present here deals with the use of request modification items by a consecutive third language learner whose L1 is Catalan, L2 is Spanish and L3 is English. Previous research on interlanguage and child pragmatic development has ignored the multilingual background of language learners and users thus adopting a monolingual perspective in their analyses. In our view, studies adopting this approach present a partial account of pragmatic, and thus, linguistic development. Furthermore, as argued by Jessner (2006) multilingual speakers are best examined from a multilingual approach. On that account, the present study examines request mitigation devices in the three languages of a pre-literate boy during a one-year period. Data were collected during time play including mother–child interaction. In line with theoretical paradigms underlying third language acquisition and use (Aronin and Hufeisen in The exploration of multilingualism. John Benjamins, 2009; Jessner 2006), findings from our study point out the peculiarities of third language pragmatic development while they also lead to interesting differences between pre-literate monolingual and multilingual request mitigation. Finally, our results also call for the need for further research on multilingual pragmatic development in early language learning.



As a member of the LAELA (Lingüística Aplicada a l’Ensenyament de la Llengua Anglesa) research group at Universitat Jaume I (Castellón, Spain), I would like to acknowledge that this study is part of a research project funded by Fundació Universitat Jaume I and Caixa Castelló-Bancaixa (P1.1B2011-15).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Facultat de Ciències Humanes i SocialsUniversitat Jaume I (Castelló—Spain)CastellóSpain

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