General programme, activity sheet

Friday 19 September, 2014 Poster
DPs as conflict sites in Papiamento-Dutch-Spanish multilingualism
Authors: Myrthe Wildeboer; M. Carmen Parafita Couto


Societal multilingualism is the norm in the Dutch Antilles, with Papiamento (the indigenous language) in contact with Dutch, Spanish and English (among other languages). Papiamento is generally SVO with postnominal modifiers and no gender Dutch, in contrast, is considered to be a language with no dominant word order with regard to S, V and O (Dryer, 2008; Shetter, 1958) but it has pre-nominal modifiers and a gender system distinguishing common and neuter gender. Spanish is SVO and has a binary masculine/feminine gender system, and adjectives may appear pre- and postnominally. Following Hartsuiker (2004) we investigate how much syntax is shared amongst these three languages within the mind of a multilingual speaker. More concretely, this cross-sectional study aims to explore whether bilingual competence can indeed be identified as showing different effects leading to instability in the bilingual speakers’ competence in one or all languages at play, specifically when they are compared to monolinguals. We designed two experimental tasks (i.e., sentence verification task and event-related brain potentials (ERPs)) measuring gender concord and adjective placement. 24 early Papiamento-Dutch-Spanish trilinguals originating from Curacao and Aruba but living in the Netherlands participated together with two monolingual speaker groups (24 Spanish and Dutch monolinguals respectively). Group results show that our bilingual speakers’ competence is subject to different effects in the morpho-syntactic domain, some of which we argue result from processes of interference (i.e. syntactic activation is non-selective). We discuss the implication of these findings in reference to current heritage language acquisition debates (incomplete acquisition and/or attrition).
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Poster session
Place: Main Room

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