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Transfer and derivational complexity in the wh-movement of heritage speakers and L2 learners: A bidirectional study / Holger Hopp

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Transfer and derivational complexity in the wh-movement of heritage speakers and L2 learners: A bidirectional study / Holger Hopp

Transfer and derivational complexity in the wh-movement of heritage speakers and L2 learners: A bidirectional study / Holger Hopp, in colloque "Bilingualism vs. monolingualism: a new perspective on limitations to L2 acquisition" organisé par la laboratoire Octogone-Lordat (Université Toulouse 2) sous la responsabilité de Barbara Köpke (UT2J), Holger Hopp (Technische Universität Braunschweig), Tanja Kupisch (Universität Konstanz), Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, 19-20 juin 2017.

In a comparative study of heritage L1 and late L2 acquisition, we investigate the production and comprehension of filler-gap dependencies in Plautdietsch (Mennonite Low German) and English by Plautdietsch-English bilinguals. Previous research shows that complex (i.e. cross-clausal) wh- dependencies pose more difficulty to child L1 and adult L2 learners than monoclausal dependencies (Jakubowicz and Strik 2008, Schulz 2011, Slavkov 2014). To avoid complex dependencies, learners often license medial constructions where the wh-item surfaces once at the left periphery of the embedded CP and a second time at the left periphery of the matrix clause, as illustrated by (1) and (2).

(1)   What do you think where she put the book?                     (medial scope-marking)

(2)   Where do you think where she put the book?                   (copy)

Medial-wh is ungrammatical in English, though possible in (Low) German. In this paper, we investigate whether medial-wh in heritage and L2 speakers is due to cross-linguistic transfer or grammar-internal complexity reduction according to the Derivational Complexity Hypothesis (DCH; Jakubowicz, 2005). Our study presents a comparison of fluent L1 speakers of Plautdietsch, a Germanic variety spoken by Mennonites around the world. We compare two groups within the same population, i.e. six speakers with Plautdietsch as L1 who learnt English late, and six speakers who have Plautdietsch as a heritage language and acquired English early. All speakers performed a production task that elicited 833 long-distance, embedded, and matrix questions in both languages in total. Subsequently, they completed an acceptability judgment task on 144 questions in Plautdietsch and English. In production and comprehension, all speakers clearly differentiated between languages in matrix and embedded questions. For long-distance wh-questions, we found an interaction of group and language: In English, only late learners produced medial constructions in the L2; in Plautdietsch, only heritage speakers produce medial- wh in their L1. This pattern cannot be due to transfer since speakers/groups produce medial-wh in only one of their languages. Instead, medial-wh surfaces as a mechanism to reduce syntactic complexity in the less dominant language, irrespective of whether it is the L1 or the L2 or whether it was acquired early or late. These group differences partially extend to comprehension. We argue that the DCH can account for grammatical restructuring in both heritage L1 speakers and late L2 speakers and discuss its potential as a metric of incomplete acquisition and attrition in bilingual syntax.

    Date de réalisation : 20 Juin 2017
    Durée du programme : 21 min
    Classification Dewey : Bilinguisme
    Catégorie : Conférences
    Niveau : niveau Master (LMD), niveau Doctorat (LMD), Recherche
    Disciplines : Linguistique, Disciplines connexes (sociolinguistique, psycholinguistique…)
    Collections : Bilinguisme contre monolinguisme : une nouvelle perspective sur les limites de l'acquisition de L2
    ficheLom : Voir la fiche LOM
    Auteur(s) : HOPP Holger
    producteur : Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès-campus Mirail
    Réalisateur(s) : SARAZIN Claire
    Editeur : SCPAM / Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès-campus Mirail
    Langue : Anglais
    Mots-clés : bilinguisme
    Conditions d’utilisation / Copyright : Tous droits réservés aux auteurs et à l'Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès.


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