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This article examines the performance of heritage speakers (HSs) on two types of acceptability judgment tasks (AJTs) as well as their corresponding confidence ratings. Data were collected from 75 native speakers of Spanish who were subsequently divided into three groups: Spanish monolinguals, Spanish-dominant HSs, and English-dominant HSs. An AJT targeting morphosyntax (Task 1) showed that all groups were affected by task stimulus, that is, they were significantly less accurate on the ungrammatical items. A lexically focused AJT (Task 2) revealed the tendency of HSs to accept complex words that are possible yet not attested. Confidence ratings on both tasks were very high overall, and there was a significant relationship between accuracy and confidence. Thus, the data question the assumption made in a number of previous studies that HSs suffer from a lack of certainty in their linguistic intuitions. Finally, between-group effects show that the Spanish-dominant HS group was not different from the monolingual group on Task 1, yet there were significant differences between all three groups on Task 2. By comparing morphosyntactic and lexical phenomena on two tasks administered in the same modality, this research contributes to the discussion of vulnerable domains in heritage language bilingualism.
This article explores two fundamental dimensions in sociolinguistics: the dynamics of linguistic variation and change in international languages and the exploitation of data proceeding from significant countries. These issues will be addressed through examination of a particular syntactic feature and a possible change in progress: the occurrence of null direct objects in Spanish. It is shown that for Spanish, a widely used international language, social factors have not been decisive in explaining the distribution of the phenomenon under investigation. This study shows that while direct object omission is not conditioned by typical social variables such as sex, age, and gender, it is unevenly spread throughout the Spanish-speaking world: Mexico and the continental Caribbean use it more than other countries, such as Spain or Chile. Besides the relevance of geography, some semantic, discourse, and contextual factors are shown as determinant for the direct object omission. Finally, this paper reflects on methodology, specifically the use of a macroregional sociolinguistic method for data analysis as well as the advantages and shortcomings of a specific data collection technique that capitalizes on technological tools with global reach: the internet survey in an international scenario.
Monolingual children identify referents uniquely in gesture before they do so with words, and parents translate these gestures into words. Children benefit from these translations, acquiring the words that their parents translated earlier than the ones that are not translated. Are bilingual children as likely as monolingual children to identify referents uniquely in gesture; and do parental translations have the same positive impact on the vocabulary development of bilingual children? Our results showed that the bilingual children – dominant in English or in Spanish – were as likely as monolingual children to identify referents uniquely in gesture. More importantly, the unique gestures, when translated into words by the parents, were as likely to enter bilingual and monolingual children's speech – independent of language dominance. Our results suggest that parental response to child gesture plays as crucial of a role in the vocabulary development of bilingual children as it does in monolingual children.
Much bilingualism research includes some consideration of codeswitching, which may be measured via self-report, an experimental task, or sociolinguistic interview; however, there is little triangulation across measures in either psycholinguistic or sociolinguistic approaches. To consider possible differences between self-report and oral production of codeswitching, Spanish–English bilinguals completed a codeswitching questionnaire and oral production in an autobiographical memory task. They also completed proficiency and executive function tests. We found that broad measures of self-reported and orally produced codeswitches were positively correlated, although relationships with proficiency and executive function were more complex. These findings may direct future studies’ operationalization of codeswitching.
Heritage Spanish speakers and adult immigrant bilinguals listened to wh-questions with the differential object marker a (quién/a quién ‘who/whoACC’) while their eye movements across four referent pictures were tracked. The heritage speakers were less accurate than the adult immigrants in their verbal responses to the questions, leaving objects unmarked for case at a rate of 18%, but eye movement data suggested that the two groups were similar in their comprehension, with both starting to look at the target picture at the same point in the question and identifying the target sooner with a quién ‘whoACC’ than with quién ‘who’ questions.
Objectives: Maintaining two active languages may increase cognitive and brain reserve among bilingual individuals. We explored whether such a neuroprotective effect was manifested in the performance of memory tests for participants with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). Methods: We compared 42 bilinguals to 25 monolinguals on verbal and nonverbal memory tests. We used: (a) the Loewenstein-Acevedo Scales for Semantic Interference and Learning (LASSI-L), a sensitive test that taps into proactive, retroactive, and recovery from proactive semantic interference (verbal memory), and (b) the Benson Figure delayed recall (nonverbal memory). A subsample had volumetric MRI scans. Results: The bilingual group significantly outperformed the monolingual group on two LASSI-L cued recall measures (Cued A2 and Cued B2). A measure of maximum learning (Cued A2) showed a correlation with the volume of the left hippocampus in the bilingual group only. Cued B2 recall (sensitive to recovery from proactive semantic interference) was correlated with the volume of the hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex of both cerebral hemispheres in the bilingual group, as well as with the left and right hippocampus in the monolingual group. The memory advantage in bilinguals on these measures was associated with higher inhibitory control as measured by the Stroop Color-Word test. Conclusions: Our results demonstrated a superior performance of aMCI bilinguals over aMCI monolinguals on selected verbal memory tasks. This advantage was not observed in nonverbal memory. Superior memory performance of bilinguals over monolinguals suggests that bilinguals develop a different and perhaps more efficient semantic association system that influences verbal recall. (JINS, 2019, 25, 15–28)
The role of morphology in word recognition during reading acquisition in transparent orthographies is a subject that has received little attention. The goal of this study is to examine the variables affecting the fluency and accuracy for morphologically complex word reading across grade levels in Spanish. We conducted two word-naming experiments in which morphological complexity and word frequency were factorially manipulated. Experiment 1 was a cross-sectional study with 2nd-, 4th- and 6th-grade children as participants. In Experiment 2, a longitudinal study, a sample of the children in 2nd and 4th grades in Experiment 1 were retested with the same stimuli 2 years later in order to explore the evolution of morphology and frequency effects. Analyses of reading latencies and accuracy in both experiments showed that grade and frequency affected both reading fluency and accuracy. Morphology only affected fluency, irrespective of grade. In accordance with previous literature in Italian, we conclude that when learning to read in transparent orthographies, morphology mostly benefits reading fluency since accurate pronunciation can be achieved through grapheme-to-phoneme conversion rules.
The aim of this study is to: (1) examine the psychometric properties of the Spanish version of the Satisfaction with Life scale (SWLS) on a representative sample of the Chilean population (N = 1,500); (2) test the factorial invariance of the SWLS across gender and employment status (henceforth status); and (3) provide normative data of the SWLS for Chile. Results suggest that the Spanish version of the SWLS is a valid and reliable instrument for measuring global life satisfaction in Chile and for comparison across gender and status. Confirmatory factor analysis shows support, across all groups, for a modified single-factor structure of the SWLS that allows error terms of items 1 and 2 to correlate (GFI > .98; RMSEA < .08). Cronbach’s alpha coefficient ranges between .68 and .84 for different groups, with an average value of .80 for the total sample. The SWLS scores converge with an alternative single-item measure of life satisfaction (r = .63, p < .001) and with measures of conceptually related constructs. The factorial structure of the scale is invariant with respect to gender and status (CFI > .99; RMSEA < .06). Metric invariance holds for gender (ΔCFI = 0; RMSEA = .051) and status (Δχ2 = 23.93, nonsignificant; ∆CFI = 0; RMSEA = .045). Scalar invariance holds for gender and some status combinations; partial scalar invariance holds for the rest. Mean levels of life satisfaction can be compared across gender and status, albeit cautiously for status combinations for which scalar invariance does not hold.
Bilinguals experience emotions differently depending on which language they are speaking. Emotionally loaded words were expected to be appraised differently in the first versus the second language in Spanish–English bilinguals. Three categories of words (positive, negative, and taboo) were appraised in both languages in the visual and auditory sensory modalities. Positive word ratings were more positive in English than in Spanish. Negative words were judged as more negative in English than in Spanish. Taboo words were rated as more negative in Spanish than in English. Significant regression models were obtained for the visual and auditory positive words and auditory negative words with English and Spanish proficiency as the most significant predictors. Results support the view that there are differences in the appraisal of emotions in the two languages spoken by bilinguals; the direction of the difference depends on the emotion category of words, and it is influenced by language proficiency.
Aims. Morphological skills in Williams syndrome (WS) are a controversial issue, particularly cross-linguistically. Methods. We assessed pluralization patterns of nouns, inflection of verbs in the past, and gender assignment, inflection, and agreement within the noun phrase in a sample of Spanish-speaking children with WS compared to typically developing (TD) children matched on mental age (VA-TD) and on chronological age (CA-TD) age. Results. Children with WS attribute grammatical gender correctly in a production task, but they have problems with inferring the referent’s sex from the gender of the noun in a comprehension task. Additionally, they correctly pluralize nouns and properly inflect regular verbs, but they have problems with irregular verbs. Our findings suggest that they have mastered the productive rules, but they perform like younger children regarding irregular items.
Sustained interaction between a bilingual's two languages can be a first step toward diachronic language change. We describe two investigations that explore this by examining how bilinguals process innovative syntactic structures in their first language. In the first investigation, a sentence recall/sentence matching task, bilinguals and monolinguals exhibited differences in their tolerance of expressions of induced motion, which vary in acceptability between the two languages (Portuguese and English). In the second investigation, a priming methodology was employed to induce bilinguals to produce in their first language (Spanish) innovative constructions modeled on the second language (English), using materials where the alternation is shared between the two languages (voice, reciprocal) or not (dative). The two investigations provide a window into how languages interact in bilinguals, inducing tolerance of ungrammaticality which, we will argue, could lead to long-term novel representations in the linguistic competence repositories.
This study analyzes gender assignment in Spanish–Basque mixed nominal constructions with nouns in Basque (a language that lacks gender) and determiners in Spanish (a language that marks gender) by using a multi-task approach: (i) naturalistic data, (ii) an elicitation task, and (iii) an auditory judgment task. Naturalistic data suggest cross-language effects under which a morphological marker of Basque (-a determiner) is interpreted as a morphophonological expression of gender marking in Spanish. A preference for feminine determiners was observed in the judgment task, which differs from the masculine default trend observed in Spanish–English bilinguals (Jake, Myers-Scotton & Gross, 2002). Our results point to feminine gender as default in Spanish–Basque mixed DPs, indicating that the resources that bilinguals use for gender assignment can be different from those of monolinguals. We argue that this is an outcome of interacting processes which take place at the interfaces (lexicon, phonology, morphosyntax) of both languages, resulting in cross-language effects.
Interpreting temporal statements involves adopting alternative frames of reference. Previous work has shown that people draw on time-moving or ego-moving perspectives to interpret statements such as Next Wednesday´s meeting has been moved forward two days. The expression move forward in English can be translated into Spanish as mover hacia adelante or adelantar. Corpus data show that when these expressions are used metaphorically to describe time, the former is typically used to describe events parting from the ego (ego-moving perspective) while the latter is typically used to describe events moving towards the ego (time-moving perspective). We provide empirical evidence that different frames of reference are elicited depending on the specific metaphorical expression in Spanish (Corpus Analysis, Experiments 1 and 2), to the extent that the use of these linguistic forms in temporal sentences affects subsequent spatial reasoning (Experiment 3). We conclude that Spanish has some metaphorical expressions that are not neutral regarding the ego-/time-moving perspectives, and that their use affects how people draw on spatial motion schemas when thinking about time and space.
Long-term experience with a tonal language shapes pitch perception in specific ways, and consequently Chinese speakers may not process pitch in English words – e.g., “Rose?” spoken as a question versus “Rose” spoken as a statement – in the same way as native speakers of non-tonal languages do. If so, what are those pitch processing differences and how do they affect Chinese recognition of English words? We investigated these questions by administering a primed lexical-decision task in English to proficient Chinese–English bilinguals and two control groups, namely, Spanish–English and native English speakers. Prime-target pairs differed in one sound and/or in pitch. Results showed specific cross-language differences in pitch processing between the Chinese speakers and the control groups, confirming that experience with a tonal language shaped the perception of English words' intonation. Moreover, such experience helps to incorporate pitch into models of word-recognition for bilinguals of tonal and non-tonal languages.
This study analyzed the association between levels of language proficiency and levels of bilingualism and performance on verbal and nonverbal executive functions (working memory, updating, shifting, and inhibition tasks) in young bilinguals. Forty balanced (high and low proficiency), 34 unbalanced bilinguals, and 40 English monolinguals, were selected. The Bilingual Verbal Ability Test was used as a measure of language proficiency; WAIS Block design test was used as a measure of non-verbal intelligence. High proficiency balanced bilinguals performed better than low proficiency balanced bilinguals; unbalanced bilinguals scored in between both balanced groups. High proficiency monolinguals scored higher than low proficiency monolinguals and similar to high proficiency bilinguals. Regression analyses demonstrated that nonverbal intelligence significantly predicted performances on verbal working memory and verbal and nonverbal inhibition tasks. It was concluded that nonverbal intelligence scores are better predictors of executive function performance than bilingualism or language proficiency.