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Ultimate attainment in the use of collocations among heritage speakers of Turkish in Germany and Turkish–German returnees*



In this paper we show that heritage speakers and returnees are fundamentally different from the majority of adult second language learners with respect to their use of collocations (Laufer & Waldman, 2011). We compare the use of lexical collocations involving yap- “do” and et- “do” among heritage speakers of Turkish in Germany (n = 45) with those found among Turkish returnees (n = 65) and Turkish monolinguals (n = 69). Language use by returnees is an understudied resource although this group can provide crucial insights into the specific language ability of heritage speakers. Results show that returnees who had been back for one year avoid collocations with yap- and use some hypercorrect forms in et-, whilst returnees who had been back for seven years at the time of recording produce collocations that are quantitatively and qualitatively similar to those of monolingual speakers of Turkish. We discuss implications for theories of ultimate attainment and incomplete acquisition in heritage speakers.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Jeanine Treffers-Daller, Institute of Education, University of Reading, London Road Campus, 4 Redlands Road, Reading, RG1 5EX


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We are very grateful for the comments received from the anonymous reviewers of this paper and for the help given by Seda Kan and Kubilay Yalçın in collecting and transcribing the Turkish data. In addition we acknowledge financial support for the data collection from the Research Fund of Boğaziçi University and the Language Contact Fund of the University of Amsterdam. Finally, we would like to thank Ludovica Serratrice for her support in the reviewing process.



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