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Language Evolution: The Windows Approach

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Academic Paper


Title: Reanalysis in Adult Heritage Language
Author: Maria Polinsky
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://scholar.harvard.edu/mpolinsky/home
Institution: Harvard University
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics; Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics; Syntax
Subject Language: English
Russian
Abstract: This study presents and analyzes the comprehension of relative clauses in child and adult speakers of Russian, comparing monolingual controls with Russian heritage speakers (HSs) who are English-dominant. Monolingual and bilingual children demonstrate full adultlike mastery of relative clauses. Adult HSs, however, are significantly different from the monolingual adult controls and from the child HS group. This divergent performance indicates that the adult heritage grammar is not a product of the fossilization of child language. Instead, it suggests that forms existing in the baseline undergo gradual attrition over the life span of a HS. This result is consistent with observations on narrative structure in child and adult HSs (Polinsky, ). Evidence from word order facts suggests that relative clause reanalysis in adult HSs cannot be attributed to transfer from English.

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This article appears IN Studies in Second Language Acquisition Vol. 33, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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