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Bookmark and Share Paper 2931

Derivational Complexity Effects in Bilingual Adults: Instances of Interrogative Inversion in Spanish
Joshua Frank
143-155 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Derivational Complexity Hypothesis (DCH) predicts that structures with fewer internal merge operations taken before spell-out can transfer to the more complex language (e.g., Jakubowicz, 2011; Jakubowicz & Strik, 2008; Slavkov, 2011). The present study considers the following research questions: (1) do adult native speakers of English learning Spanish as a second or heritage language (SL or HL) produce subject-verb inversion in matrix and embedded WH-questions and (2) does DCH provide a possible explanation for the results. Data from a written dehydrated sentence task strongly indicate that advanced SL and HL learners have persistent difficulty with the production of subject-verb inversion in embedded but not matrix contexts. This is taken as support for DCH, where in matrix contexts Spanish and English constructions are equally complex. However, in embedded contexts, Spanish is the more complex language.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 16th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Jennifer Cabrelli Amaro, Gillian Lord, Ana de Prada Pérez, and Jessi Elana Aaron
Table of contents
Printed edition: $310.00