27.3564, Diss: Acquiring Obligatory and Variable Mood Selection: Spanish Heritage Speakers and L2 Learners' Performance in Desideratives and Reported Speech Contexts

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LINGUIST List: Vol-27-3564. Sun Sep 11 2016. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 27.3564, Diss: Acquiring Obligatory and Variable Mood Selection: Spanish Heritage Speakers and L2 Learners' Performance in Desideratives and Reported Speech Contexts

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Date: Sun, 11 Sep 2016 21:20:47
From: Silvia Perez-Cortes [sp1019 at camden.rutgers.edu]
Subject: Acquiring Obligatory and Variable Mood Selection: Spanish Heritage Speakers and L2 Learners' Performance in Desideratives and Reported Speech Contexts

 
Institution: Rutgers University 
Program: Department of  Spanish and Portuguese 
Dissertation Status: Completed 
Degree Date: 2016 

Author: Silvia Perez-Cortes

Dissertation Title: Acquiring Obligatory and Variable Mood Selection: Spanish
Heritage Speakers and L2 Learners' Performance in
Desideratives and Reported Speech Contexts 

Dissertation URL:  https://rucore.libraries.rutgers.edu/rutgers-lib/50124/

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition

Subject Language(s): Spanish (spa)


Dissertation Director(s):
Liliana Sanchez

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation examines Spanish heritage speakers (HS) and second language
(L2) learners’ acquisition of obligatory and variable mood selection in two
complement clauses: desideratives and reported speech contexts. Previous
studies have reported this area of language to be particularly troublesome for
early and late Spanish/English bilinguals, especially in variable contexts
(Borgonovo, Bruhn de Garavito & Prévost, 2008; Collentine, 1993; Iverson,
Kempchinsky & Rothman, 2008; Montrul, 2007, 2009, 2011; Pascual y Cabo,
Lingwall and Rothman, 2012; Silva-Corvalán, 1994; Torres, 1989; inter alia).
These investigations, however, have focused on structures that belonged to
different modalities, comparing obligatory selection in deontic predicates
with alternations in epistemic and epistemological contexts. 

This study interviewed 137 participants (HS: N=69; L2ers: N=68) with different
proficiency levels using four experimental tasks: a truth-value judgment, two
production tasks (written and oral), and an acceptability judgment task.
Results show that mastery of mood selection is dependent on the interplay
between participants’ level of proficiency, age of onset and frequency of
Spanish use. Highly proficient bilinguals tended to be more accurate in their
performance, while those with lower command of the language displayed more
variability. Differences in age of exposure and frequency of activation
appeared at intermediate levels of proficiency, where HS outperformed their L2
peers in the interpretation and production of subjunctive in reported speech
contexts. It is argued that earlier onset of acquisition and active use of
Spanish favored the attainment of these structures. In general, the results
suggest that the potential effects of vulnerability expected to emerge in mood
alternations, appear to be minimized when propositional modality is controlled
for. This dissertation contributes to the fields of L2 and heritage language
acquisition in two ways. First, the comparison of these groups reveals
contrasts at the interpretive and productive level, furthering our
understanding on how differences in age of onset and exposure modulate
bilinguals’ linguistic outcomes. Second, the analysis of mood within deontic
predicates also suggest that the source of morphological variability in these
constructions is not the obligatoriness of the selection (as argued by
Montrul, 2007, 2009) but the type of modality expressed by the predicate under
evaluation.




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