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Acquisition of Scrambling of Negative Polarity Items (NPIs) by Heritage Korean Speakers
Sok-Ju Kim
60-75 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This study investigates the acquisition of scrambling of negative polarity items (NPIs) by Korean-English bilinguals who are heritage speakers in the United States. Specifically, the current study examines how scrambling of the Korean NPI amwuto, 'anyone,' is acquired by the adult heritage Korean speakers (HKs) (cf. Kim, Montrul, & Yoon, 2009), exploring how the acquisition of the grammatical properties is affected by the dominant language (cf. transfer: Montrul 2010, L1 attrition: Polinsky 2011). The present study also compares two different HK groups based on their age of acquisition of English (i.e., simultaneous HKs (HKI: AOA 0-2) and early sequential HKs (HKII, AOA 7-10)) and examines whether and how age of onset of bilingualism plays a role in heritage language acquisition (cf. Montrul, 2008). Since Korean NPIs are not case-marked, comparisons of acceptability between case-unmarked NPI scrambling and case-marked ordinary DP scrambling are necessary, in order to examine whether case markers cue the interpretations of scrambling. The heritage speakers were mostly college students at intermediate or advanced proficiency, completing a paper-based Acceptability Judgment Task with contexts given in a question format. The results showed that simultaneous HKs overall maintained the properties of NPI scrambling, whereas early sequential HKs did not fully maintain short scrambling, which suggests potential L1 attrition or transfer by early sequential HKs. However, in case-marked ordinary DP scrambling in the fillers, the results show potential transfer by both HK groups. The difficulties in parsing case-unmarked NPI scrambling may be attributed to potential L1 attrition by early sequential HKs. With regard to age effects, while the proficiency test shows age effects in Korean grammar in general, age effects were not found in NPI scrambling, nor in ordinary DP scrambling.

Published in

Proceedings of the 12th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference (GASLA 2013)
edited by Jennifer Cabrelli Amaro, Tiffany Judy, and Diego Pascual y Cabo
Table of contents
Printed edition: $290.00