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24 - Morphology of Heritage Languages

from Part III - Grammatical Aspects of Heritage Languages

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 November 2021

Silvina Montrul
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Maria Polinsky
University of Maryland, College Park
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The acquisition, maintenance, and attrition of morphological properties of heritage languages (HLs) has been a central research focus since the inception of the systematic study of these linguistic varieties. Both child and adult heritage language speakers (HSs) experience difficulty in producing target-like inflectional morphology, and in some instances, the errors in their production are similar to those found in the speech of L2 learners. This chapter offers a broad survey of developmental trends of derivational and inflectional morphology in the nominal (e.g., gender and case) and verbal (e.g., agreement, tense, aspect, mood) domains. Different morphological types (e.g., inflectional, agglutinative, fusion, isolating) are discussed, focusing on whether certain properties of heritage morphology are specific to each type and whether certain properties cut across all of them. Claims regarding the effects of maturational constraints and continued activation on the ultimate attainment of heritage morphology are reviewed. This chapter also considers the issue of age effects in connection with heritage morphology and concludes with a brief discussion of the implications that these findings have on linguistic theory as well as highlighting future directions for the study of heritage morphology.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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