Eleventh Heritage Language Research Institute

Heritage Languages in Unexpected Places

professional development \ institutes \ 2019 institute

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Child heritage speakers' direct object clitic gender in Spanish

by Naomi Shin (University of New Mexico)

This study investigates 37 child heritage speakers’ direct object (DO) clitics in Spanish. Results from an elicited production task show that DO expression versus omission was related to Spanish vocabulary: the lower the vocabulary score, the more omitted DOs. In contrast, DO clitic gender was related to English: children who used more English in the home and who had higher English vocabulary scores produced more gender mismatches, most notably masculine lo referring to feminine referents. Overall, the study suggests that the extent to which restricted input and cross-linguistic influence affect child heritage speakers’ minority language grammar may be mediated by the nature of the linguistic phenomenon in question.

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