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The Acquisition of Heritage Languages

By Silvina Montrul

"This work centres on the grammatical development of the heritage language and the language learning trajectory of heritage speakers, synthesizing recent experimental research."


Academic Paper


Title: All acquisition begins with the projection of a bare verb phrase
Author: Anne Vainikka
Institution: Johns Hopkins University
Author: Martha Young-Scholten
Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Subject Language: German
Korean
Turkish
Italian
Spanish
Abstract: One of the main conclusions that we (Vainikka & Young-Scholten, 1994) make in regard to the second language (L2) German development of uninstructed Korean and Turkish adults was the resemblance of their morphosyntactic development to that of the German children under study at the time by Harald Clahsen and colleagues (see, e.g., Clahsen, Eisenbeiss, & Vainikka, 1994; Clahsen & Penke, 1992). Data from these L2 learners also indicated initial transfer of the headedness of their native language verb phrases (VPs), a claim then strengthened by research on L2 learners whose first language (L1) headedness differed from German, namely, Italian and Spanish (Vainikka & Young-Scholten, 1996). L2 learners' initial grammars were argued to consist of just a “bare” VP, based on comprehensive lack of inflectional morphology and complex syntax, and similar to children acquiring L1 German, these L2 learners' nonfinite verb forms were typically in final position, either early on (for head-final Korean and Turkish speakers) or a bit later, once headedness shifted to the German value from head-initial (for Italian and Spanish speakers). Similar to child L1 learners, the L2 morphosyntactic data pointed to subsequent projection of a head-initial underspecified functional projection and, with sufficient input, projection of higher functional projections. Apart from some details, the claim was that for children and adults learning German, acquisition is defined by the emergence of syntactic projections and the morphology associated with them.

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN Applied Psycholinguistics Vol. 31, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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