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date: 28 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The present chapter discusses age effects in first language (L1) attrition. In particular, focus is placed on the age-related decline in attrition susceptibility, the extent to which age effects be counterbalanced by other factors, and the underlying mechanisms of age effects. In view of extant evidence, it is suggested that the change in heightened attrition susceptibility occurs at around 12 years of age (or puberty) (though this by no means implies that attrition does not occur past puberty). Relatedly, it is suggests that socio-psychological and cognitive factors have greater compensatory potential for prepubescent than postpubescent attriters. As to the underlying mechanisms of age effects, the impediment account, the psychosocial account, and the maturational account are discussed. It is suggested that out of these, the maturational account has the greatest explanatory potential. The chapter concludes with a number of testable principles of age effects on L1 attrition.

Keywords: age effects, critical period, interference hypothesis, language loss, maturational constraints, psychosocial factors

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