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Bookmark and Share Paper 1788

Knowledge of Wh-movement in Spanish L2 Learners and Heritage Speakers
Silvina Montrul, Rebecca Foote, and Silvia Perpiñán
93-106 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This study examined knowledge of wh-movement by 72 native English-speaking L2 learners of Spanish and 67 Spanish heritage speakers, or early bilinguals exposed to Spanish at home since birth. Both Spanish and English obey subjacency and have overt wh-movement in questions, but the two languages vary with respect to the that-t effect in subject extractions (*Who did Peter say that was from Argentina? Quién dijo Pedro que era de Argentina?). The two experimental groups and a control group of 22 Spanish native speakers completed an acceptability judgment task testing object extractions, embedded sentences with and without complementizers, embedded object extractions, and embedded subject extractions. Overall group results showed no differences between the L2 learners and the heritage speakers: they were all aware of the constraints on wh-movement in Spanish. Analysis of individual results showed that many L2 learners and heritage speakers rejected both embedded object and embedded subject extractions, but they knew that complementizers were not optional and required in Spanish. Finally, 35% of heritage speakers and 17% of L2 learners displayed the pattern of performance of the native speaker controls, suggesting that the incidence of native-like ultimate attainment is higher in heritage speakers than in proficiency-matched L2 learners.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 10th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Joyce Bruhn de Garavito and Elena Valenzuela
Table of contents
Printed edition: $250.00