27.3673, Diss: Perfect Timing: Acquisition of the Spanish Present Perfect in a Francophone Context

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LINGUIST List: Vol-27-3673. Fri Sep 16 2016. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 27.3673, Diss: Perfect Timing: Acquisition of the Spanish Present Perfect in a Francophone Context

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Date: Fri, 16 Sep 2016 15:52:13
From: Joanne Markle LaMontagne [joannemarkle.lamontagne at mail.utoronto.ca]
Subject: Perfect Timing: Acquisition of the Spanish Present Perfect in a Francophone Context

 
Institution: University of Toronto 
Program: Hispanic Linguistics 
Dissertation Status: Completed 
Degree Date: 2016 

Author: Joanne Markle LaMontagne

Dissertation Title: Perfect Timing: Acquisition of the Spanish Present Perfect
in a Francophone Context 

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition

Subject Language(s): Spanish (spa)


Dissertation Director(s):
Mihaela Pirvulescu
María Cristina Cuervo
Ana Teresa Pérez-Leroux

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis explores the possible role of cognate (similar) morphological
forms and semantics in a model of cross-linguistic influence in bilingual
language acquisition. Much of the previous research on the question of what
counts as similarity and overlap in different languages, as a condition on
language influence, has focused on syntactic structures (e.g., Hulk & Müller,
2000; Strik & Pérez-Leroux, 2011; Unsworth, 2003; Yip & Matthews, 2000, 2007,
2009). Verbal morphemes and their corresponding semantics, however, have not
been investigated before as conditions on language influence. Some of the work
on this area has examined the role of shared semantic features related to
Tense in bilingual children growing up in a language contact situation in
Quechua and Spanish (e.g., Sánchez, 2004). Morphological similarity, however,
has not been explicitly tested as to whether it determines language influence.
This dissertation investigates whether cognate morphological forms and
semantics (i.e., semantic features) are determinants of language influence,
and whether quantitative and/or qualitative differences between monolingual
and bilingual children occur.

I present an experimental study that tests the grammatical knowledge of
Spanish tense-aspect-mood and copula selection in Spanish heritage children
growing up in a Canadian Francophone context. Four semantic contrasts are
tested (e.g., Preterite/Present Perfect, Preterite/Imperfect,
Subjunctive/Indicative, and ser/estar), all of which have shown sensitivity to
bilingual effects such as language transfer, incomplete acquisition, and
attrition. Such effects have been attested in studies on child and adult
Spanish heritage language acquisition (e.g., Cuza, 2008, 2010; Cuza & Miller,
2015; Miller & Cuza, 2013; Montrul, 2002b; Montrul & Slabakova, 2002, 2003;
Silva-Corvalán, 1994, 2003). In order to examine the subtle, yet important,
differences between the Spanish and French tense-aspect-mood systems, a
contrastive analysis as in Cowper’s (2005) feature geometry analysis for
features of Inflection is adopted.

Results from a receptive vocabulary and a sentence imitation task show that
while monolingual children outperform heritage children, the latter also show
growth and development despite prolonged contact with French. This trend is
also confirmed in the contextualized preference-based elicitation task, the
main task chosen for this study. Language influence from French to Spanish
occurs in heritage children, specifically overextension of certain verbal
forms and feature reassembly, but no effect of form similarity (i.e., a
cognate boost) is found.




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