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Datum: Samstag, 30.03.2019
9:00 - 10:30Sesión 08: LING_3: Sitzung
J 30/109 
9:00 - 9:45

The Role of the Language Combination in the Acquisition of Grammatical Gender in Spanish: Evidence from Heritage and Non-Heritage Bilinguals

Jessica Diebowski

Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Deutschland

Bilinguals i.e. second language learners (L2 learners) and heritage speakers (HSs) often fail to achieve full linguistic competence in gender assignment and agreement compared to their monolingual peers (Montrul et al. 2008). The most prevalent explanation for the divergent results in L2 learners’ knowledge of gender compared to monolinguals is attributed to maturational constraints, whereas the divergent results attested in the heritage language speakers have mostly been explained in terms of either language attrition (Polinsky 2011) or incomplete acquisition (Montrul 2008). This study attempts to cover this gap in the literature and takes a new approach by examining the knowledge of gender in Spanish of both adult English-Spanish and German-Spanish HSs and German/English-speaking L2 learners of Spanish in the USA and Germany to that of controls. The research questions are: (1) Does the language combination (Romance two gender systems in combination with English, a system without gender, or with German, a three gender system) have an effect on the subjects’ knowledge of gender and (2) Are there possible differences between HL speakers and L2 learners in the knowledge of gender. The data were collected using a multi-method approach: (1) a detailed language background questionnaire to assess bilinguals’ language profiles (2) a language proficiency test i.e. DELE, (3) a grammaticality judgment task (GJT) and (4) an oral production task (OPT). Results from the GJT and OPT revealed that German-Spanish HSs and L2 learners produce higher accuracy rates in contexts when the German noun and its translation into Spanish have the same gender value, suggesting positive language transfer (see ex.1). In contexts, in which the German noun and its translation into Spanish have the different gender value, German-Spanish HL speakers and L2 learners transfer the gender value from German to the Spanish noun, especially with nouns ending in –e. This is an indication of negative transfer from the native to the target language (see ex. 2). Contrary to the German-speaking L2 learners of Spanish, the results show that the English-speaking L2 learners produce more gender errors mainly due to overgeneralizations (see ex. 3). Preliminary results on the two groups of bilinguals show that native-like attainment is possible in Spanish HLA and SLA. I will discuss the results in the light of information about home language use, quality and quantity of input and other variables.


(1) Sp. la (Sg.,Fem.) fuente (Sg.,Fem.)

Dt. die (Sg.,Fem.) Quelle (Sg., Fem.)

Engl. the source

(2) Sp. *la (Sg.,Mask.) puente

Dt. die (Sg., Fem.) Brücke

Engl. the bridge

(3) Sp. *el (Sg.,Mask.) mano (Sg.,Fem.)

Dt. die(Sg.,Fem.) Hand(Sg.,Fem.)

Engl. the hand

9:45 - 10:30

Fonética y fonología de las oclusivas en tres grupos de bilingües castellano y alemán

Mario Ruiz1, Christoph Gabriel2

1University of Hamburg, Germany / CAU Kiel, Germany; 2JGU Mainz, Germany

Las oclusivas en castellano y alemán presentan diferentes reglas fonológicas y realizaciones fonéticas. En posición inicial absoluta, el castellano opone /bdɡ/ y /ptk/ mediante el rasgo [±sonoridad], mientras que el alemán mediante [±aspiración]. El presente trabajo tiene como objetivo estudiar si la producción de las oclusivas en tres grupos de bilingües castellano y alemán presenta diferencias entre sus dos lenguas, así como con las respectivas comunidades de hablantes monolingües. Se investigaron cinco grupos de hablantes: uno monolingüe en castellano (SM); otro en alemán (GM); uno de late bilinguals (L1 castellano, L2 alemán; SLB); y finalmente dos grupos de early bilinguals (SEB y GEB) para quienes se han criado en sociedades de habla castellana y alemana, respectivamente, y teniendo el otro idioma como lengua de herencia. Tanto el rasgo de [±aspiración] como el de [±sonoridad] han sido medidos en términos de Voice Onset Time (VOT). Tales mediciones revelan que en todos los grupos hay realizaciones no canónicas, es decir /ptk/ claramente aspiradas en castellano o con escasa aspiración en alemán, y /bdɡ/ sin vibración (pre-voicing) en castellano o con ella en alemán. No obstante, los early bilinguals (SEB y GEB) las efectúan en mayor proporción que los monolingües de cada idioma, en especial cuando la desviación afecta a un parámetro fonético que no es el principal rasgo fonológico distintivo (las desviaciones en [±sonoridad] son más frecuentes en alemán que en castellano). Asimismo, el grupo de SLB presenta un número incluso mayor de realizaciones no canónicas que los early bilinguals y presenta una aspiración media en alemán menor que el margen inferior de los GM. En general, los resultados muestran efectos de influencia interlingüística en el nivel tanto fonético como fonológico que, respecto a los late bilinguals, pueden interpretarse como signos de language attrition.

11:00 - 12:30Sesión 09: LING_3: Sitzung
J 30/109 
11:00 - 11:45

Subject positions in Heritage Spanish and Italian spoken in Germany

Scherger Anna-Lena1, Katrin Schmitz2, Di Venanzio Laura3

1Stiftung Universität Hildesheim; 2Universität Wuppertal, Deutschland; 3Universität Duisburg-Essen

Recent years have seen an enormous increase of investigation of heritage languages (HL) and their acquisition in various grammatical domains and language combinations. The answers to important questions on the nature of heritage language acquisition (HLA), however, still diverge largely. While subject expression has been studied intensely in the HLs Spanish and Italian with diverging results in terms of (in)complete acquisition, the position of overt subjects has become a focus of investigation only more recently. Studies on postverbal subjects in the HL Spanish in the US (de Prada Pérez & Pascual y Cabo 2012, Pascual y Cabo 2013) as well as in the Netherlands (VanOsch et al. 2016) investigated the knowledge of the HS with respect to the interplay of subject position, unaccusativity of the verb and information structure (information focus). The position of subjects thus involves the semantics/syntax and the pragmatics/syntax interface. De Prada Pérez (2012) and VanOsch et al. (2016) observe a general move towards more preverbal subjects and a less sharp distinction of predicate types. For unaccusative psych verbs (gustar/piacere-type ‘to like’ verbs), Pascual y Cabo (2013) observes an innovation of structures towards (ungrammatical) preverbal subjects and invariable gusta (Yo me gusta la pizza instead of Me gusta la pizza) due to transfer from English.

These observations as well as the general aim to understand of interlanguage processes and features possibly transferred from the majority language German motivate our study. Unlike the two Romance languages, German is a non-null subject language like English and Dutch, but allows for post-verbal subjects in a strict V2 order in main clauses (like Dutch) and a verb end order in subordinate clauses. Based on semi-structured interview data with different types of focus in overt subjects from monolingual Italians (n=10) and Spaniards (n=7) as well as Italian HS (n=16) and Spanish HS (n=7) living in Germany, we will answer the following research questions:

RQ1: Do we find more preverbal subjects and a loss of the distinction of the predicate type in HS when compared to monolinguals?

RQ2: Do potential divergences between monolinguals and HS differ between Italian and Spanish?

Results on pre- and post-verbal subjects with different verb types in Spanish and Italian as HL in Germany will also be discussed with respect to the role of the language combination and the applicability of the (revised) IH to HL acquisition.

11:45 - 12:30

Comprehension and production of Italian postverbal subjects: evidence from Italian heritage speakers in Turkey

Andrea Listanti

Sapienza Università di Roma, Italia

The study reports the result of an experiment targeting use and preference for postverbal subjects in Italian by 8 multilingual heritage speakers whose dominant language is Turkish. All participants belong to the old Italian Levantine community of Istanbul, whose members have so far maintained a multilingual linguistic repertoire that include Italian, French and Greek, as well as Turkish.

The theoretical background of the study is the Interface Hypothesis (IH), according to which linguistic phenomena at the interface between syntax and discourse are particularly vulnerable in the acquisition of heritage languages due to a variety of factors that are often difficult to disentangle, including underspecification of interpretable features, processing costs of bilingualism itself, and input effects.

The aim of the study was to assess the role of these factors in the HS’ grammars compared to those of a control group of 10 Italian monolingual. A two-parts timed, computer-assisted test was carried out: the first part consisted in combining given words to formulate an appropriate answer to a given question, in wide or narrow focus conditions (e.g. Perché Giovanni è felice? Ieri/suo fratello/tornare). The second part consisted in choosing the most appropriate answer to a given question between two options, in wide focus conditions (e.g. Chi era prima al telefono? Non lo so: Mario ha risposto/Non lo so: ha risposto Mario).

Collected data illustrate an internal distinction in the experimental group depending on the role of Turkish as language of primary and secondary education. More specifically, subjects of the experimental group who had not attended eight consecutive years of education in Turkish differ from their monolingual counterpart only in the use of postverbal subjects [W(18) = 55.5, Z = -3.535, p = .001], whereas those who had continuously attended Turkish schools from the age of 6 to the age of 14 show vulnerability both in use [Z2 = 57.9, p =.001] and preference [Z2 = 11.27, p = .010] of the same interface.

The proposal is put forward that for the former the source of non-target behaviour is instability in linguistic performance that emerges only in production due to its higher cognitive burden; in the latter, instead, the exposition to a Turkish input in critical years may have affected the linguistic representation, thus emerging both in production and interpretation of postverbal subjects. Effects of cross-linguistic influence, then, appears to emerge only under particular input conditions related to the speaker’s educational development and life choices.

15:00 - 16:30Sesión 10: LING_3: Sitzung
J 30/109 
15:00 - 16:30

Final discussion and farewell

Katrin Schmitz, Natascha Pomino

Universität Wuppertal, Deutschland

Final discussion and farewell