This article explains a syntactic strategy systematically found in Interlanguage Grammars when forming Prepositional Relative Clauses: the Null Prep phenomenon. This phenomenon consists of dropping the obligatory preposition, which, in the case of Spanish, should be pied-piped at the beginning of the relative clause. 20 Spanish heritage speakers, 22 English-speaking intermediate learners of Spanish, and 13 native speakers of Spanish (control group) took a Grammaticality Judgment Task and a Sentence Combining Task. The two tasks were complementary and displayed similar pattern results. Both experimental groups showed the same tendencies in their results, with a higher percentage of Null Prep production in the L2 group (30% the heritage speaker group; 50% the L2 learners). Whereas other accounts (Klein 1993) explained Null Prep as a phenomenon placed outside UG, this paper argues that the Null Prep phenomenon is an unmarked strategy available in UG that both, native speakers and bilinguals, resort to in order to decrease the processing load of the oblique relative clause.
Selected Proceedings of the 10th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Joyce Bruhn de Garavito and Elena Valenzuela
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