First language attrition without second language acquisition: An exploratory study

Batia Laufer, Liubov Baladzhaeva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigate whether Russian immigrants in Israel with little or no knowledge of Hebrew (L2) experience attrition of Russian (L1). We compared immigrants with no knowledge of Hebrew (−Hebrew), immigrants who knew Hebrew (+Hebrew), and monolingual controls on correctness judgment of collocations and of complex grammatical constructions. On collocations, the −Hebrew immigrants performed similarly to the +Hebrew immigrants. On grammatical constructions, they performed worse. Results of grammatical constructions correlated positively with Hebrew proficiency and usage. We conclude that immigrants with no L2 knowledge can experience just as much, or even more, attrition of L1 as immigrants with L2 knowledge. Moreover, higher L2 proficiency may positively affect L1 maintenance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-253
Number of pages25
JournalITL - International Journal of Applied Linguistics (Belgium)
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© John Benjamins Publishing Company.


  • Attrition without acquisition
  • Hebrew
  • Israel
  • L1 attrition
  • Russian
  • “second-hand” attrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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