General programme, activity sheet

Thursday 8 September, 2016 17:00 to 17:30 Oral presentation
Vulnerability of Clitics and Articles in Spanish-English bilinguals
Speaker: Anny Castilla-Earls, University of Houston

Authors: Anny Castilla-Earls, Ana Teresa Perez-Leroux, Maria Adelaida Restrepo y Lourdes Nieto

Bilingualism provides an opportunity to explore the interaction between exposure and learnability, as bilingual delays express differently across domains, with some structures exhibiting acceleration effects (Müller 2003; Kupisch 2007). Our study examines the impact of language proficiency and age in the developmental trajectories of Spanish clitics and determiners. In Spanish, direct object pronouns and direct articles are morphologically and prosodically similar, as shown in (1). (1) La limpia [d] “The clean (one)” [cl] “(He) cleans her.” Importantly, these morphemes are acquired with comparable timing in monolinguals but appear sensitive to changes in proficiency in the majority language (English). Object clitics show higher omission rates in bilinguals, but there is no clear consensus about determiners in the literature (Morgan et al., 2012; Jacobson, 2012). Recent works suggests delays in both forms, but to a higher extent with clitics (Castilla-Earls et al., 2015). We contrasted a learnability-based hypothesis that predicted that clitics will be more vulnerable than determiners, and that vocabulary size will influence the magnitude of clitic delays (Pérez-Leroux et al., 2012); with a hypothesis based on monolingual timing in the other language (English), which predicts either no difference, or a determiner delay. Three groups of Spanish-speaking children aged 5;0 to 8;6 participated in an elicited production study: 1) monolinguals from Mexico (n= 30), 2) bilinguals with moderate English proficiency (n=30), and 3) bilinguals with higher English proficiency (n=30). We found statistically significant differences on the production of both structures between groups. The monolingual children (who were younger on average) outperformed bilingual children; the two bilingual proficiency groups were also different from each other, but only in their clitic productions. These results suggest that the production of articles is more stable in bilingual acquisition than the production of direct object pronouns, as predicted by the learnability hypothesis.
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Development in bilingual and multilingual contexts
Place: Room A-16

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