On the Status of Tense and Aspect Morphology in Child Heritage Spanish: An Analysis of Accuracy Levels
Lauren Miller and Alejandro Cuza
117-129 (complete paper
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This cross-sectional study examined the acquisition of tense and aspect morphology by Spanish-English bilingual children using an elicited production task. The goal of this study was to determine with more precision whether difficulties adult heritage speakers have with tense and aspect can be attributed to incomplete acquisition of the relevant features, attrition of previously acquired structures or acquisition of a contact variety with different morphosyntax. For this reason, a group of parents were also tested to determine the nature of the input to which these bilingual children are exposed. Results showed no evidence for the presence of a contact variety of Spanish in the parental input. The results also show that children become more accurate with age, due to a reduction of overextension of the preterite among the oldest children. The middle group (7;0-8:11), which includes the ages when dominance usually switches to English, show evidence of default preterite tense use as can occur with adult L2 learners. These results suggest that reduced input may lead to a protracted acquisition process, which may mirror that of L2 learners in some ways, rather than a steady decline in proficiency after intense exposure to English begins.
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
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