Chapter

Bilingual and Monolingual Children's Patterns of Syntactic Variation: Variable Clitic Placement in Spanish

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

This study addresses whether monolingual and bilingual Spanish-speaking children differ in their acquisition of grammar by examining direct object clitic placement in children’s narratives. Specifically, we analyze contexts where either proclisis or enclisis is possible (Lo voy a ver ~ Voy a verlo). Corpus studies of adult monolingual Spanish show that proclisis is more frequent than enclisis. Furthermore, variation between proclisis and enclisis is constrained by linguistic factors, such as verb lexeme. We hypothesize that if bilingual children’s Spanish syntax is influenced by English, they will (i) produce higher rates of enclisis, and (ii) display decreased sensitivity to factors that constrain variation. One previous study of bilingual children suggests that English influences Spanish clitic placement. Pérez-Leroux, Cuza, and Thomas (Biling Lang Cogn 14(02):221–232, 2011) asked children to repeat sentences with proclisis and enclisis, and found that bilingual children reordered sentences with proclisis, and produced enclisis instead. In contrast, research on adult bilinguals’ production of proclisis/enclisis suggests no impact of English on Spanish. In fact, bilingual adults’ proclisis rates are similar to those of monolingual adults, and the same linguistic factors constrain variation between proclisis and enclisis among monolinguals and bilinguals alike (e.g. Gutiérrez M, Hisp Res J 9(4):299–313, 2008; Peace M, Southwest J Linguist 31(1):131–160, 2013). Nevertheless, to the best of our knowledge, no previous research has examined variable clitic placement in bilingual children’s naturalistic production data.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... 3 This raises the question of how learning and using English as a L2, which is categorical with respect to direct object pronoun placement, might impact processing behavior in L1 Spanish, which displays VCP. Corpus studies of naturalistic bilingual speech production have generally failed to show an effect of bilingualism on frequencies and patterns of VCP use with particular lexical items (for a review, see Shin, Requena, & Kemp, 2017). One study involving simultaneous Spanish-English bilingual children in a small bilingual community in Canada, however, found an enclisis bias in sentence recall (Pérez-Leroux, Cuza, & Thomas, 2011), but such an effect has not been found in naturalistic or elicited production in larger US bilingual communities (Requena & Dracos, 2018;Shin et al., 2017). ...
... Corpus studies of naturalistic bilingual speech production have generally failed to show an effect of bilingualism on frequencies and patterns of VCP use with particular lexical items (for a review, see Shin, Requena, & Kemp, 2017). One study involving simultaneous Spanish-English bilingual children in a small bilingual community in Canada, however, found an enclisis bias in sentence recall (Pérez-Leroux, Cuza, & Thomas, 2011), but such an effect has not been found in naturalistic or elicited production in larger US bilingual communities (Requena & Dracos, 2018;Shin et al., 2017). When it comes to processing, we are aware of only one study that has addressed whether bilingualism impacts how clitics in Spanish L1 are processed in VCP constructions. ...
... The effect, however, seems at odds with corpus data on bilingual production, which do not show an increased prevalence of enclisis in bilinguals relative to monolingual communities. Corpus studies with Spanish-English bilingual adults and children reveal production patterns that resemble monolingual use (see Requena & Dracos, 2018;Shin, Requena, & Kemp, 2017), thus restricting the effect found here to the processing domain and not to frequencies of use in bilingual production. This would suggest that Spanish-English bilinguals display VCP frequencies of use like those employed by monolingual speakers in naturalistic conversation; however, their reliance on clitic position when processing VCP seems weakened compared to monolinguals. ...
Article
Full-text available
The current study investigates cross-linguistic influence of second language (L2) learning on native language (L1) processing of morphosyntactic variation in proficient L2 learners immersed in their L1. Despite Spanish pre-and postverbal clitic pronoun positions being grammatical in complex verb phrases, preferences of use have been well attested in natu-ralistic language production. To examine whether those preferences obtain for comprehension in monolinguals, as well as how those preferences might be modulated by learning an L2 with fixed pronoun positions, we administered a self-paced reading experiment to 20 Spanish monolinguals as well as 22 proficient learners English (L1 Spanish). The results of a Bayesian mixed effects regression analysis suggest that preferences in production are echoed in comprehension-but only for the monolingual group. We find support for facilitation in the bilingual group precisely where both languages overlap, as well as evidence that bilinguals may not use clitic position as a reliable cue at all. We interpret the results as evidence that learning an L2 that lacks variation for a particular feature may lead to reduced sensitivity to that feature as a cue in an analogous L1 structure. We situate these results in an experience-based, shared-syntax account of language processing.
... In a sentence repetition study of Spanish-English bilingual children Pérez-Leroux, Cuza & Thomas (2011) report shifts in VCP preferences in the direction of English word order, which the authors interpret as the result of cross-linguistic transfer at the level of structural configuration, i.e. transfer that affects the structure building process due to cross-linguistic activation of selectional features of lexical entries. These results contrast with those from corpus studies that indicate that bilingual adults (Darwich 2007;Gutiérrez 2008;Gutiérrez & Silva-Corvalán 1993;Peace 2013;Silva-Corvalán 1994) and children (Shin, Requena, & Kemp 2017) do not differ significantly from monolingual Spanish speakers in their VCP knowledge and preferences. ...
... Even in the absence of quantitative differences, it has been hypothesized that given the fact that VCP lies at the intersection of syntax, semantics and pragmatics, it should be amenable to bilingual effects. A review of the literature offered in Shin et al. (2017) shows that such bilingual effects are not supported by the studies of corpora of Spanish-English adult speakers. Nevertheless, the question here is whether bilingual learners develop a grammar that specifies these VCP preferences that have been attested in monolingual and bilingual adults. ...
... Pérez-Leroux et al. showed that the influence from English results in increased enclisis. Shin et al. (2017) conducted a corpus study where interviews and narrations produced by monolingual and bilingual children were scrutinized for a quantitative analysis of VCP not only of overall preferences of clitic placement, but also lexical and animacy effects. The results by Shin et al (2017) indicate that, unlike Pérez-Leroux et al. (2011), bilingual children (i) do not produce significantly higher rates of enclisis than monolingual children do, and (ii) bilingual children are similar to monolingual children with respect to constraints on variable clitic placement. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Only two studies have addressed whether Spanish-English simultaneous bilingualism may impact Spanish variable clitic placement (VCP) preferences in children. Those studies consisted of (a) a corpus study in a well-established bilingual context (Shin et al. 2017) and (b) an experimental study in a smaller bilingual community (Pérez-Leroux et al. 2011). The present study provides data on a Elicited Production task with Spanish-English simultaneous bilingual children (9;0-12;0) from a well-established bilingual context in order to determine the role of type of study (experimental vs. corpus) and context (large and well-established vs. small community). The results indicate that, at least in U.S. bilingual communities, VCP syntax seems to be impermeable to cross-linguistic effects. This finding underscores the role of the type of bilingual community in bilingual language development.
... Shin, Requena and Kemp (2017) also hypothesized that bilingual children would show an increase in enclisis in their natural production data. They examined proclisia/enclisis in socio- linguistic interviews conducted with 17 child heritage speakers in the U.S., ages 6;G-11;9. ...
... Instead, the children in Mexico and the children in the U.S. appeared to match the cIitic placement patterns found among adults in their same communities. Nevertheless, the bilingual children studied by Shin et al. (2017) lived in conununities with many monolingual ...
Chapter
Full-text available
The primary aim of the chapter is to extract broad generalizations from the literature, to interpret those generalizations within current theories of language acquisition and bilingualism. In particular, two questions are explored: 1. Do child heritage speakers and monolingual children acquire Spanish morphosyntax at the same rate? 2. Do child heritage speakers’ morphosyntactic patterns reflect influence from English? The literature reviewed suggests that reduced exposure to Spanish results in slower acquisition of Spanish morphosyntax. With respect to the second question, it appears that English influences Spanish morphosyntax during heritage language development; however, with age, heritage speakers become increasingly adept at suppressing features that do not correspond to communicative expectations, which in turn reduces the likelihood of structural convergence. The chapter also provides discussion that illuminates unanswered questions, and thus suggests topics that are ripe for future investigation.
Article
Research on heritage language development in children can profit greatly by incorporating insights from analyses of structured variation, which is defined as the interchange of linguistic forms where the choice to use one form over the other is probabilistically conditioned by linguistic and social factors. This article reviews the limited research on bilingual children's structured variation, focussing specifically on child heritage speakers of Spanish. It is argued that careful attention to structured variation advances our understanding of heritage language development in childhood and can help us move beyond a deficit view of bilingualism.
Article
Aims and objectives This study examines the role of age of first exposure and experience with input in the syntax of English–Spanish bilinguals. More specifically, I examine the production of clitic climbing constructions in Spanish (e.g., lo quiero ver “[I] want to see it” [Kayne; Rizzi]). Design/methodology I compare two experimental groups of heritage speakers of Spanish ( n = 16) and L2 Spanish learners ( n = 17) from the United States (matched in proficiency) against a group of native Spanish speakers from Mexico ( n = 20). A sentence completion task was employed to elicit proclitic sentences across four verbal conditions: two in which clitic climbing is possible but with a higher or lower probability of occurrence, and two in which proclitic placement is agrammatical. Data and analysis Results show a strong tendency to avoid clitic climbing constructions across all testing conditions. Two logistic regression analyses report no differences across all groups, who only favored the proclisis in highly grammaticalized verbs; proficiency among the experimental groups was a predictor in the production of these sentences. Findings/conclusions A different time of onset of first exposure to the second language and a different experience with linguistic input (heritage language acquisition vs L2 acquisition) do not appear to affect the production of complex proclitic sentences in Spanish. Originality Previous studies have employed a few selected periphrastic conditions to elicit clitic climbing constructions among English–Spanish bilinguals. This study further expands the range of verbal matrices employed in the four testing conditions and uses a more controlled testing environment. Significance This study adds adult bilingual data to the ongoing debate on whether an early exposure to the second language results in advantages in the morphosyntactic domain.
Article
Aims and objectives This study analyzes the proclitic and enclitic positions of Spanish clitic se (e.g., ella se quería ir / ella quería irse ‘she wanted to go’) across two generations of Spanish speakers in New York City. In an effort to contribute to ongoing research aimed at better understanding Spanish in the US, the following questions are addressed. In syntactic environments that permit variation, does placement of Spanish se differ between the two generations? From the internal variables identified for this study (nonfinite verb type, finite verb, tense of finite verb, grammatical person, use of se, grammatical mood of finite verb, negation), which ones have a statistically significant effect on placement? From the external variables identified for this study (national origin, region, areal origins, sex, age, years in US, socioeconomic class, education, English skill, Spanish skill, general Spanish use), which ones have a statistically significant effect on placement? Design and data This study is carried out within a variationist-sociolinguistic framework and the sample consists of 50 participants, 25 from the first generation (G1) and 25 from the second (G2). Analysis Bivariate chi-square tests are performed in order to determine what internal and external variables constrain placement of the dependent variable (clitic se placement). Findings Generation has a statistically significant effect on placement ( p = .016), wherein proclisis is more frequent amongst the G2 participants. These results corroborate previous research showing an overall preference for proclisis in both monolingual and bilingual/heritage speakers. Further, chi-square tests pinpoint five conditioning effects for G1 (nonfinite verb type, use of se, finite verb, years in US, and English skill), but only two for G2 (use of se and English skill). Originality and implications The present study is the first to discover strong correlations between the proclitic position and the numerous internal and external variables quantitatively assessed. Future research is thus warranted.
Article
This article presents a developmental pathway for the acquisition of morphosyntactic variation. Although there is abundant evidence that morphosyntactic variation is pervasive among adults, much less is known about how children acquire such variation. The literature thus far indicates that the pathway of development involves first producing only one of the variable forms (Step 1), producing both forms but in mutually-exclusive contexts (Step 2), then producing both forms in some overlapping linguistic contexts (Step 3), and finally producing both forms in more contexts (Step 4). The research reviewed indicates that input patterns are influential each step of the way, playing an important role in determining children’s use of forms as well as the contexts in which the forms are produced. In addition to considering input effects, we also draw on various tendencies that children evince in the face of variable input to explain the pathway of development, including regularization and assigning different meanings to different forms. The article also includes suggestions for testing the hypotheses generated by the proposed pathway of development, which we illustrate by drawing on the acquisition of variable Spanish subject pronoun expression.
Article
The present study examines the production and intuition of Spanish clitics in clitic left dislocation (CLLD) structures among 26 Spanish heritage speakers (HSs) born and raised in Brazil. We tested clitic production and intuition in contexts in which Spanish clitics vary as a function of the semantic features of the object that they refer to. Results showed overextension of object clitics into contexts in which null objects were expected. Furthermore, we found higher levels of overextension among the HSs with lower patterns of heritage language use. Results are discussed along the lines of the model of heritage language acquisition and maintenance.
Preprint
Full-text available
The present study examines the production and intuition of Spanish clitics in clitic left dislocation (CLLD) structures among 26 Spanish heritage speakers (HSs) born and raised in Brazil. We tested clitic production and intuition in contexts in which Spanish clitics vary as a function of the semantic features of the object that they refer to. Results showed overextension of object clitics into contexts in which null objects were expected. Furthermore, we found higher levels of overextension among the HSs with lower patterns of heritage language use. Results are discussed along the lines of Putnam and Sánchez’s (2013) model of heritage language acquisition and maintenance.
Article
The current study examines variable clitic placement (CP) in a Mexican community in the metropolitan Atlanta area. By employing sociolinguistic interview data from 20 first-generation Mexican speakers, clitic frequencies and constraints are analyzed. Tokens of proclisis and enclisis were coded for potential linguistic and social factors that influence clitic usage (e.g., topic persistence, specific clitic used, English proficiency, age, gender), and a logistic regression analysis was carried out using Rbrul (Johnson, 2009). Results indicate a proclisis rate of 64%, which is comparable to other varieties of Mexican Spanish. The regression analysis revealed that CP is sensitive to the particular construction used, the individual clitic, pause/hesitation phenomena, and the speaker's gender. Additionally, English proficiency showed no effect on CP. This analysis supports previous research that CP is impermeable to contact-induced change and also reveals new conditioning factors (specific clitic, pauses) that have not been examined in previous literature.
Article
Full-text available
This study examines the interaction between language impairment and different levels of bilingual proficiency. Specifically, we explore the potential of articles and direct object pronouns as clinical markers of primary language impairment (PLI) in bilingual Spanish-speaking children. The study compared children with PLI and typically developing (TD) children matched on age, English language proficiency, and mother's education level. Two types of bilinguals were targeted: Spanish-dominant children with intermediate English proficiency (asymmetrical bilinguals), and near-balanced bilinguals. We measured children's accuracy in the use of direct object pronouns and articles with an elicited language task. Results from this preliminary study suggest language proficiency affects the patterns of use of direct object pronouns and articles. Across language proficiency groups, we find marked differences between TD and PLI, in the use of both direct object pronouns and articles. However, the magnitude of the difference diminishes in balanced bilinguals. Articles appear more stable in these bilinguals and, therefore, seem to have a greater potential to discriminate between TD bilinguals from those with PLI. Future studies using discriminant analyses are needed to assess the clinical impact of these findings.
Article
Full-text available
We utilize variationist methodology to explore the conventionalization and pragmatics of 3rd person direct object clitic placement in Spanish periphrastic constructions. Analysis of 652 tokens extracted from three Mexico City speech corpora indicates that while proclitic position is the majority variant, the rate of enclitic position depends on particular [finite + non-finite verb] constructions, distinguished by frequency measures and more grammaticalized meanings. At the same time, enclisis is favored by propositional or non-referential direct objects and by direct objects of low topic persistence, measured by subsequent mentions. In contrast, proclitic position is favored more by inanimate than human referents, especially those that show topic persistence and whose previous mention was in the syntactic role of direct object in the same or preceding clause. These quantitative patterns suggest that proclisis indicates prototypical DOs in non-prototypical use, i.e. topical inanimates. Thus, despite conventionalization of the general proclitic schema, particular constructions and semantic-pragmatic considerations are operative factors in the variation.
Article
Full-text available
This study explores the widely documented difficulty children have with object clitics in the acquisition of Romance languages. It reports on two experiments: a production task and a comprehension task. Results from the elicitation task confirm that object omission occurs at non-negligible rates in 2- and 3-year-olds. Findings from the sentence-picture matching task show that children do not sanction a grammar with referential null objects, as suggested by previous research, and that children do not always assign a transitive interpretation to clitic constructions. Further analysis reveals that both the frequency of object omissions in production as well as the results in the clitic conditions of the receptive task are strongly negatively correlated with an independent measure of verbal working memory (nonword repetition task), consistent with the hypothesis that object clitic omission is affected by linguistic processing and short-term memory limitations. Download full text here: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/63SUDfnXAaiPpDvPIJxY/full
Article
Full-text available
Washington State, demographically speaking, represents the northernmost boundary, la nueva frontera, of what might now be called the Spanish speaking West. Previously, Spanish speakers in the West were concentrated mostly in the Southwest. However, in recent years the Hispanic population of the U.S. has steadily grown, with the result that it forms the largest minority group in the nation, extending into areas that traditionally have not had significant Hispanic communities, including the Pacific Northwest. Little research to date has been carried out on the Spanish-speaking Hispanic populations in that region, particularly in interior Washington. This article seeks to begin to fill that research lacuna. Analyses of U.S. Census data, as well as sociolinguistic interviews with Washington Hispanics, indicate that what used to be the Spanish-speaking Southwest can now be subsumed under the broader ‘Spanish-speaking West,’ with Washington at its northernmost border.
Article
Full-text available
The demographic changes in the Western world in the last two decades have led to rapid growth in the number of children being raised bilingually, and in many locations they represent a majority of the school population. With this increase in the number of bilingual children, researchers as well as educators and practitioners, face a diagnostic dilemma which arises from similarities in the linguistic manifestations of child second language (L2) acquisition and of Specific Language Impairment (SLI). This dilemma has motivated a new field of research, the study of bilingual children with Specific Language Impairment (BISLI), which aims at disentangling the effects of bilingualism from those of SLI, making use of both models of bilingualism and models of language impairment. The majority of the studies are currently focused on morphosyntax as a key direction of research. The present issue, which originated in papers presented at a scientific workshop funded by the Israel Science Foundation and The Hebrew University's Center for Advanced Study, held in February 2009, aims at broadening this area of research to other linguistic domains.
Article
Full-text available
This study presents and analyzes the comprehension of relative clauses in child and adult speakers of Russian, comparing monolingual controls with Russian heritage speakers (HSs) who are English-dominant. Monolingual and bilingual children demonstrate full adultlike mastery of relative clauses. Adult HSs, however, are significantly different from the monolingual adult controls and from the child HS group. This divergent performance indicates that the adult heritage grammar is not a product of the fossilization of child language. Instead, it suggests that forms existing in the baseline undergo gradual attrition over the life span of a HS. This result is consistent with observations on narrative structure in child and adult HSs (Polinsky, 2008b). Evidence from word order facts suggests that relative clause reanalysis in adult HSs cannot be attributed to transfer from English.
Article
Full-text available
Recent work on acquisition in sociolinguistic research suggests that some aspects of the structured variation found in adult speech are evident in children's speech from the very start of language acquisition, and input from the primary caregiver is crucial in this process. In this article we contribute to this research by conducting a cross-sectional analysis of the acquisition of variable forms in a Scottish dialect. Two linguistic variables are targeted in the speech of eleven children (2;10–3;6) and their primary caregivers. Quantitative analysis of over 5000 contexts of use demonstrates that one variable is conditioned by social and linguistic constraints in the speech of the caregiver and these constraints are matched by the children. In contrast, the other variable is influenced by a complex array of linguistic constraints only. We explore the ramifications of these findings for understanding the mechanisms involved in acquisition of variation from the very earliest stages. a
Article
Full-text available
In this study, we show that Spanish-learning children use clitic-climbing from the earliest stages, and that they never go through a period in which they avoid clitic-climbing by relying solely on non-climbing forms. Our results provide support for Kayne's (1989) parametric proposal that the possibility of clitic-climbing is closely tied to the null-subject parameter, which acquisition studies have independently shown to be set very early (e.g. Bloom 1990, Hyams 2001, Wexler 1998).
Article
Full-text available
In this introduction to the special issue on Romance languages as heritage languages, I aim to contextualize the scope of this issue and the contribution it makes to the emerging field of linguistic studies to heritage language bilingualism. Key issues pertaining to the empirical study and epistemology of heritage language bilingualism are presented as well as a critical introduction to the individual articles that comprise this issue.
Article
Full-text available
This article examines the competence of heritage speakers of Portuguese living in Germany with respect to clitic placement in Portuguese by comparing their performance with that of monolingual speakers of the same age (7–15 years of age) in a test designed to elicit oral production data. The results of the study indicate that the heritage speakers go through stages in the acquisition of clitic placement that are similar to those of monolingual acquirers even though they take longer to attain the target grammar.
Article
Full-text available
Despite the assumption in early studies that children are monostylistic until sometime around adolescence, a number of studies since then have demonstrated that adult-like patterns of variation may be acquired much earlier. How much earlier, however, is still subject to some debate. In this paper we contribute to this research through an analysis of a number of lexical, phonological and morphosyntactic variables across 29 caregiver/child pairs aged 2;10 to 4;2 in interaction with their primary caregivers. We first establish the patterns of use – both linguistic and social – in caregiver speech and then investigate whether these patterns of use are evident in the child speech. Our findings show that the acquisition of variation is highly variable dependent: some show age differentiation, others do not; some show acquisition of style shifting, others do not; some show correlations between caregiver input and child output, others do not. We interpret these findings in the light of community norms, social recognition and sociolinguistic value in the acquisition of variation at these early stages.
Article
This study presents population projections for different linguistic components of the Spanish language group, that is, for English dominant bilinguals, Spanish dominant bilinguals and Spanish monolinguals. The population model combines parameters obtained from the U.S. Bureau of the Census for nonlinguistic characteristics with linguistic parameters estimated from the 1976 Survey of Income and Education. The number of persons speaking Spanish on a regular basis will climb to an estimated 16.6 million persons at the turn of the century. Further analysis reveals, however, that an additional 4.5 million persons will have left the group by ceasing to speak Spanish. In fact, in the absence of continued immigration, this language minority cannot maintain its current size and will undergo progressively more rapid decline over the course of time.
Book
1. Linguistic Theory and Syntactic Development.- 1. Introduction.- 2. A Parameterized Theory of UG.- 3. An Overview.- 3.1 A Note on Methodology.- 4. The Theory of Grammar.- Notes.- 2. The Null Subject Phenomenon.- 1. Introduction.- 2. The Structure of INFL.- 2.1 Rule R.- 3. Null Subjects and the Identity of AG.- 3.1 The Properties of PRO.- 3.1.1 Control of AG/PRO.- 3.1.2 Arbitrary Reference of AG/PRO.- 3.1.3 The Auxiliary Systems of Italian and English.- 4. Summary.- Notes.- 3. The AG/PRO Parameter in Early Grammars.- 1. Introduction.- 2. Null Subjects in Early Language.- 2.1 The Avoid Pronoun Principle.- 3. The Early Grammar of English (G1).- 3.1 The Auxiliaries in Early English.- 3.2 The Filtering Effect of Child Grammars.- 3.2.1 The Semi-Auxiliaries.- 3.2.2 Can't and Don't.- 3.3 G1 and the Syntax of Be.- 4. The Restructuring of G1.- 4.1 The Triggering Data.- 4.2 The Avoid Pronoun Principle in Child Language.- 5. Summary.- Notes.- 4. Some Comparative Data.- 1. Introduction.- 2. The Early Grammars of English and Italian: A Comparison.- 2.1 Postverbal Subjects.- 2.2 Modals in Early Italian.- 2.3 Italian Be.- 3. Early German.- Notes.- 5. Discontinuous Models of Linguistic Development.- 1. Introduction.- 2. Semantically-Based Child Grammars.- 3. Semantically-Based Grammars: Some Empirical Inadequacies.- 3.1 Evidence from Polish and Hebrew.- Notes.- 6. Further Issues in Acquisition Theory.- 1. Summary.- 2. The Initial State.- 2.1 The Subset Principle.- 2.2 The Theory of Markedness.- 2.3 The Isomorphism Principle.- 3. Instantaneous vs. Non-Instantaneous Acquisition 168 Notes.- Index of Names.- Index of Subjects.
Article
It has been suggested that contact between Spanish and English results in an increased rate of Spanish subject pronouns and a desensitization to factors that constrain pronoun usage. Yet, evidence for such contact-induced change has been found in some U.S. communities, but not others. In this study we analyze Spanish pronoun expression in interviews with Hispanics in Washington State who do agricultural work in Montana each summer. We compare U.S.-born bilingual children to monolingual adults from this community. Results from analyses of 3,572 verb tokens indicate little to no change in pronoun expression — neither in rates of expression nor in usage patterns. We explain this lack of change in pronoun expression by drawing on the well-established connection between social networks and language change. Poorer, more rural communities, like the farmworker community in Washington/Montana, tend to have tight-knit social networks, which increases the likelihood of retention of linguistic patterns.
Chapter
Since Chomsky (1981), the principles-and-arameters (P&P) approach to Universal Grammar (UG) dominated linguistic research in many respects, including explanation in language acquisition. This approach contends that UG consists of a set of universal principles and a set of parameters associated with them, which have limited values. This formulation has been proposed and pursued in order to overcome the tension between the innateness of UG and cross-linguistic variation. On the one hand, since human beings acquire many aspects of language without the aid of negative feedback (cf. Crain (1991)), it is necessary for a theory of grammar to contain innate universal principles. On the other hand, since human natural languages display diversity regarding linguistic phenomena, a theory of UG needs to include room for parametric variation. Under this approach, child language acquisition could be viewed as a process of fixing parameter values, aside from the acquisition of lexical items (cf. Meisel (1995) for an overview of acquisition research along these lines)
Article
Natural human languages often contain variation (sociolinguistic or Labovian variation) that is passed from one generation of speakers to the next, but studies of acquisition have largely ignored this, instead focusing on aspects of language that are more deterministic. Theories of acquisition, however, must be able to account for both. This article examines variation from the perspective of the statistical learning framework and explores features of variation that contribute to learnability. In particular, it explores whether conditioning variables (i.e. where the pattern of variation is slightly different in different contexts) lead to better learning of variation as compared to when there are no conditioning variables, despite the former being conceptually more difficult. Data from two experiments show that adult learners are fairly good at learning patterns of both conditioned and unconditioned variation, the latter result replicating earlier studies. Five-to-seven-yearold children, in contrast, had different learning outcomes for conditioned versus unconditioned variation, with fewer children regularizing or imposing deterministic patterns on the conditioned variation. However, the children who did not impose deterministic patterns did not necessarily acquire the variation patterns the adults did.
Article
El presente estudio examina la posición de los pronombres clíticos en el español hablado en el oeste de Massachusetts, una región poco estudiada y con una población hispana notable. El análisis se basa en conversaciones grabadas de veinte bilingües. Los datos fueron analizados usando el programa Goldvarb 2001 (Robinson et al 2001) para evaluar la influencia del contacto lingüístico en cuanto a la posición preferida. Según el análisis, la posición proclítica es la preferida por los hablantes, ya que siguen las tendencias monolingües anteriormente reportadas (Myhill 1989). Es posible, sin embargo, que el inglés ejerza influencia sobre el clítico de maneras más indirectas.
Article
THERE IS LITTLE DOUBT that the number of Latinos in the United States is on the rise, and with them the Spanish language. In research released in 2010 by the economist José Luis García Delgado, the Spanish language is second, behind English, in the number of US speakers. Delgado states that, in the United States, Spanish is rapidly becoming "a cultural product very much valued by second and third generations of Hispanics, well educated, and wishing to remain faithful to their roots and the language" (García Delgado 2010, 178). And this phenomenon is not exclusive to the United States; with 350 million total speakers, Spanish is the third most widely spoken language in the world, behind Mandarin and Hindi. Even English, with 340 million native speakers in the world, takes a back seat to Spanish.
Article
Grammaticalization refers to the change whereby lexical terms and constructions serve grammatical functions in certain linguistic contexts and, once grammaticalized, continue to develop new grammatical functions. Paul Hopper and Elizabeth Traugott synthesize research from several areas of linguistics in this revised introduction to the subject. The book includes substantial updates on theoretical and methodological issues that have arisen in the decade since the first edition, as well as a significantly expanded bibliography. Particular attention is paid to recent debates over directionality in change and the role of grammaticalization in creolization. First Edition Hb (1993): 0-521-36655-0 First Edition Pb (1993): 0-521-36684-4.
Article
Constraints on linguistic variation are consistent across adult speakers, yielding probabilistic and systematic patterns. Yet, little is known about the development of such patterns during childhood. This study investigates Spanish subject pronoun expression in naturalistic data from 154 monolingual children in Mexico, divided into four age groups: 6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12+. Results from logistic regressions examining five predictors of pronoun expression in 6,481 verbs show that children's usage is structured and patterned. The study also suggests a developmental progression: as children get older, they become sensitive to more constraints. I conclude by suggesting that children learn patterns of variation by attuning to distributional tendencies in the input, and that the more frequent the patterns are, the easier they are to detect and learn.
Article
Proceedings of the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society (1988), pp. 352-363
Book
Language demonstrates structure while also showing considerable variation at all levels: languages differ from one another while still being shaped by the same principles; utterances within a language differ from one another while exhibiting the same structural patterns; languages change over time, but in fairly regular ways. This book focuses on the dynamic processes that create languages and give them their structure and variance. It outlines a theory of language that addresses the nature of grammar, taking into account its variance and gradience, and seeks explanation in terms of the recurrent processes that operate in language use. The evidence is based on the study of large corpora of spoken and written language, what we know about how languages change, as well as the results of experiments with language users. The result is an integrated theory of language use and language change which has implications for cognitive processing and language evolution.
Article
This paper examines the acquisition of the variable rules constraining Spanish syllable-final /s/-lenition in Chilean Spanish–speaking children, and whether adult-to-adult speech differs from child-directed speech in the production of s-lenition. The data of 10 children (ages 2;04–5;09) and their caregivers is presented. Tokens of syllable final /s/ were coded for pronunciation and a variable-rule analysis examining the effect of various linguistic and extralinguistic constraints was carried out. The results show that child and caregiver use of s-lenition is similar to that found in adult-to-adult speech; however, two of the youngest children showed near-categorical behavior. This paper highlights the important role of caregiver input on acquisition of s-lenition and proposes that production of s-lenition in utterance-final position in the input (caregiver's speech) is linked to young children's acquisition of s-lenition; young children exposed to an input with high rates of [s] in utterance-final position acquire s-lenition earlier.
Article
A large computer-based corpus provides the data for the first comprehensive investigation of clitic climbing (lo debe comprar vs. debe comprarlo) in both written and spoken modern Spanish. The results are based on nearly 15,000 tokens with 32 different main verbs (ir+a, tener+que, desear, etc), extracted (using WordCruncher) from a computer corpus of 3.5 million words of spoken and written Spanish from ten countries. The large amount of data from both registers permits consideration of previously problematic questions. For example, the data suggests that a semantics-based model accounts well for the continuum-like distribution of clitic climbing with different main verbs, and that the nature of the clitic (reflexivity/animacy) is also important. Although the frequency of clitic climbing varies little from country to country, it is much more common in spoken than in written Spanish, which in turn poses major new questions concerning diachronic Spanish clitic climbing.
Article
Modeling the competence grammar of heritage speakers who exhibit low proficiency in their L1 represents a significant challenge for generative and experimental approaches to bilingual linguistic research. In this paper we revisit the core tenets of the incomplete acquisition hypothesis as developed in recent scholarship (in particular by Montrul (2002 et seq.) and Polinsky (1997, 2006)). Although we adopt many of these fundamental aspects of this research program, in this article we develop an alternative model that provides a more accurate depiction of the process that leads to what these scholars describe as the (later) effects of incomplete acquisition, thus improving the predictive power of this research program.
Article
This article explores the widely documented difficulty with object clitics in the acquisition of French. The study investigates the effects of L1 transfer and processing limitations on the production and comprehension of object clitics in child L2 learners of French with different L1 backgrounds (Chinese, Spanish). The Spanish-speaking learners performed better than Chinese-speaking learners on clitic-related tasks, indicating a facilitative effect of transfer when the L1 also has object clitics. Yet no evidence was found for (negative) transfer of null objects from Chinese to French, as learners consistently rejected interpretations requiring referential null objects on a receptive task. The frequency of Chinese-speaking learners’ object omissions in production was negatively correlated with an independent measure of working memory (backward digit span), consistent with the hypothesis that object clitic omission is affected by processing limitations. These findings are discussed within a psycholinguistic model of syntactic encoding during language production.
Article
This study examined object clitic pronouns (OCPs) and verb inflections in twenty-five school-age children with typical development (TD) and twenty children with bilingual language impairment (BLI). MANOVA and ANOVA were used to explore differences according to grade level and language status (TD vs. BLI). Although children with BLI produced higher rates of grammatical errors overall, accuracy on number and gender assignment for OCPs was better for both groups in the higher grades. Although the rate of verb inflection errors did not differ for children with TD and BLI in the lower grades, a significant interaction yielded higher error rates on subject–verb agreement for third person singular and plural inflections in the later grades for children with BLI. Greater accuracy on OCP use in later grades weakens claims that bilingualism exacerbates language impairment. For BLI, whether incomplete acquisition or delayed development is the determining factor for verb inflection errors remains undetermined.
Article
The present article examines the effect of variable input on the acquisition of plural morphology in two varieties of Spanish: Chilean Spanish, where the plural marker is sometimes omitted due to a phonological process of syllable final /s/ lenition, and Mexican Spanish (of Mexico City), with no such lenition process. The goal of the study is to determine whether variable input for grammatical morphology affects the acquisition process. Does the ambiguous nature (sometimes present and sometimes absent) of a form affect acquisition? To address this question, Experiment 1 examines the production of the plural marker in Chilean- and Mexican Spanish-speaking children, and Experiments 2 and 3 examine children's use of plural and singular indefinite noun phrases in comprehension. The results indicate that variable input affects acquisition, with Chilean children taking longer to acquire the plural marker than Mexican children.
Article
The purpose of the present investigation was to obtain preliminary data on the effects of first language (LI) loss on the Spanish of bilingual children, particularly with respect to noun phrase (NP) gender agreement. Two children, bilingual in English and Spanish, were followed longitudinally and their use of gender agreement was examined. Data on incidence and type of NP gender agreement errors were obtained. Results of the investigation suggest that Spanish gender agreement morphology may be vulnerable to language loss. Nevertheless, differences in relative impact of L1 loss on gender agreement varied among the children. In contrast to previous research with Spanish-speaking children who are learning English as a second language and who have language impairment, it appears that gender errors are the result of the language contact situation, and not because of language learning deficits. Possible reasons for the observed patterns and directions for future research are presented.
Article
The origins of language change, particularly grammatical change, appear to be unobservable. But the first step in language change, innovation, can be observed in the production of synchronic variation in sound change. The same can be done for morphosyntactic change such as grammaticalization by comparing alternative verbalizations of the same experience in a controlled situation. Examples of innovation in lexical semantic change and grammaticalization are examined using the twenty parallel English narratives of the Pear Stories. Morphosyntactic variation is pervasive in the Pear Stories narratives and the alternative verbalizations show that morphosyntactic change is drawn from a pool of synchronic variation. These results disconfirm the traditional theory of morphosyntactic change, in which innovation is rare and special mechanisms are required to produce it. Instead, grammaticalization, and language change in general. originates in the variation inherent in the verbalization of experience.
Article
In this paper, preliminary longitudinal data on the effects of first language loss on verb inflection and use by two Spanish-speaking siblings who were in an English-speaking environment were gathered. Both children were followed for approximately two years and were video-recorded while interacting with a familiar Spanish-speaking adult. Spontaneous Spanish speech samples were used to monitor patterns of L1 loss in the children's use of verbal lexemes and inflections. Bybee's (1985,1995) lexical morphology model was followed to predict the course of L1 loss. In particular, the concepts of semantic relevancy and input frequency, and their effects on verbal inflection in a child L1 loss context were examined. Results in general follow the predictions made by Bybee's model. Specifically, less semantically relevant distinctions, such as person/number inflection, appear to be more vulnerable to loss. Frequency of use also appears to impact the relative strength of verbal schemas. Nevertheless, individual differences were noted in the degree of loss observed. Directions for future research in the area of verbal morphology and language loss in children are suggested.
Article
This study examined the existence of an object omission stage and the interaction between object omissions and substitution errors in the early stages of the development of Spanish syntax. One hundred and three Spanish-speaking children from Colombia completed an elicitation task evaluating the production of direct object pronouns. Results indicated that 3-year-olds were producing 35% of transitive structures with object omission, and 4- and 5-year-olds were producing around 15% of transitive structures with object omission. The production of clitic pronouns increased with age, and the change happened primarily between the ages of three and four. The results failed to find a relation between omissions and substitutions. These results suggest that there is an early object optionality stage for young Spanish-speaking children and are compatible with approaches that predict some degree of object optionality for all languages.