This study investigates the potential incomplete acquisition of binding interpretations in Korean-English bilinguals by asking whether and how the majority language of these bilinguals (English) influences their family or heritage language (Korean), especially when exposure to and use of English starts very early. The experiment tested the long-distance and local interpretations of different Korean anaphors - caki, casin, and caki-casin - by 51 Korean-English bilinguals raised in Korean-speaking families residing in the United States (22 early bilinguals and 29 late bilinguals) together with a control group of 34 Korean monolinguals residing in Korea. Overall results indicated that the bilinguals maintain the distinction between local and long-distance anaphors, though not to the same degree as monolinguals. There was a tendency among early bilinguals to choose more local binding overall compared to the late bilinguals and Korean monolinguals. At the individual level, many early bilinguals failed to differentiate between caki-casin and casin in terms of binding distance, treating both as local anaphors, whereas monolinguals and late bilinguals tended to collapse caki and casin, treating both as long distance anaphors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-35
Number of pages33
JournalLanguage Acquisition
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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