Numerous studies in the generative tradition have examined Heritage Speakers' (HS) speech in order to determine, among other things, what areas of the grammar are more vulnerable to variability and why. These studies report an apparent target convergence and stability of the core syntax juxtaposed against various degrees of vulnerability at interfaces (cf. Montrul 2004; Rothman 2007, 2010; Sanchez 2004; Sorace 2000, 2004, 2006; Toribio 2004). Within the battery of structures that have been examined is reverse psychological predicates, a syntax-semantics interface property whose unmarked OVS order is the reflection of an argument structure consisting of a postverbal theme that controls verbal agreement and a preverbal experiencer that is obligatorily doubled by a clitic (Montrul 1997:192). The present paper examines verb and clitic agreement in this specific property among Spanish HSs of different proficiencies as well as a control group. Results indicate overall sensitivity to clitic agreement violations across participants. Although the control group is largely sensitive to verbal agreement violations, we identify variable native speaker judgments with plural verbal agreement violations (singular verb form with a plural theme). Evidence from the bilingual groups, where these agreement violations are largely judged more positively than the grammatical verbal agreement option (plural verb form with a plural theme), further supports our claim that variability in native speaker judgments is the locus of interlanguage influence in bilinguals.
Proceedings of the 11th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference (GASLA 2011)
edited by Julia Herschensohn and Darren Tanner
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