General programme, activity sheet

Wednesday 7 September, 2016 16:30 to 17:00 Oral presentation
The Syntax and Semantics of Adjective Distribution in Spanish-Polish Speakers
Speaker: Tiffany Judy, Wake Forest University

Authors: Tiffany Judy


This study examines the syntactic and semantic distribution of Spanish adjectives in Polish-Spanish bilinguals in Misiones, Argentina across 3 tasks: a Grammaticality Judgment/Correction Task (GJCT) testing for knowledge of syntactically-constrained distribution of strictly pre- or postnominal adjectives, a Semantic Interpretation Task (SIT) and a Semantic Collocation Task (SCT) testing for interpretation and placement of the semantically-constrained distribution of adjectives. Differently from Spanish, Polish adjectives are generally prenominal. Nonetheless, some Spanish adjectives are either exclusively prenominal or postnominal, while others can occupy either position depending on meaning/context (examples below). The research questions explore (a) adjectival distribution in Misiones Spanish and (b) ask if Polish-Spanish bilinguals perform native-like. A GLMM analysis of accuracy on the GJCT showed a 3-way interaction for NativeLanguage*AdjectivePosition*Grammaticality: each group was more accurate with grammatical tokens. Second, significant differences were found between the Spanish group (n=28) and the bilingual groups (n=22; n=8) for ungrammatical postnominal adjectives only. The same analysis on the SIT revealed that no group performed significantly differently on either pre- or postnominal adjectives, nor were group differences found. Finally, a 2-way interaction was found in the SCT for NativeLanguage*AdjectivePosition, with each group more accurately placing postnominal adjectives; however, no significant differences were found among the groups for their collocation of the adjectives according to context. Interestingly all groups accepted more ungrammatical postnominal adjectives in the GJCT than expected. Second, and contrary to findings in bilingualism and heritage literature (see Montrul 2008), the bilingual groups showed no significant difference from Spanish speakers for the semantic distribution of adjectives, which are typically seen as more complex (Sorace & Filiaci 2006). Together, the results suggest convergence on the syntax and especially the semantics of adjectives in the bilingual groups, but differences for all 3 groups regarding the case of strictly postnominal adjectives, perhaps a product of language contact.
Morphosyntactic development
Place: Room A-15

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