This study examines argument structure overgeneralizations among heritage speakers of Spanish who exhibit varying degrees of proficiency in the heritage language. Two questions motivated the design of the study: (1) Do heritage speakers differ from native speakers in their acceptance of causative errors? And if so, (2) which classes of verbs are most susceptible to this overgeneralization? A sentence acceptability task targeting two verb classes (unaccusatives and unergatives) was administered to 58 heritage speakers and a comparison group (n = 22) of monolingually-raised native speakers of Spanish. The results confirm that heritage speakers, in contrast to native speakers, accept causative errors with a variety of intransitive verbs. Unaccusative verbs are more readily accepted in transitive frames than unergatives for all groups. Acceptance rates for individual verbs are a function of the particular verb’s compatibility with external causation as well as the possibility of being transitive in English.
(2011) Spanish gender agreement under complete and incomplete acquisition: Early and late bilinguals’ behavior within the noun phrase. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 14(3), 332–350.
Alexiadou, A., Anagnostopoulou, E., & Everaert, M
(Eds.) (2004) The unaccusativity puzzle. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Rowland, C., & Young, C
(2008) The effect of verb semantic class and verb frequency (entrenchment) on children’s and adults’ graded judgments of argument-structure overgeneralization errors. Cognition, 1061, 87–129.
(1990) La expresión de la causatividad en español actual [Causativity expression in contemporary Spanish]. Zaragoza: Libros Pórticos.
Au, T., Knightly, L., Jun, S., & Oh, J
(2002) Overhearing a language during childhood. Psychological Science, 131, 238–243.
Beaudrie, S., & Ducar, C
(2005) Beginning level university heritage programs: Creating a space for all heritage language learners. Heritage Language Journal, 31, 1–26.
(1982) Evaluating competing linguistic models with language acquisition data: Implications of developmental errors with causative verbs. Quaderni di Semantica, 31, 5–66.
(1988) The “no negative evidence” problem: How do children avoid constructing an overly general grammar? In J.A. Hawkins (Ed.), Explaining language universals (pp. 73–101). Oxford: Blackwell.
Braine, M., & Brooks, P.J
(1995) Verb argument structure and the problem of avoiding an overgeneral grammar. In M. Tomasello & W.E. Merriman (Eds.), Beyond names for things: Young children’s acquisition of verbs (pp. 352–376). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Brooks, P.J., Tomasello, M., Dodson, K., & Lewis, L
(1999) Young children’s overgeneralizations with fixed transitivity verbs. Child Development, 701, 1325–1337.
(1986) Italian syntax: A government-binding approach. Dordrecht: Reidel.
Cabrera, M., & Zubizarreta, M.L
(2003) On the acquisition of Spanish causative structures by L1 speakers of English. In J. Liceras (Ed.), Proceedings of the 6th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference (pp. 24–33). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.
Cabrera, M., & Zubizarreta, M.L
(2005) Overgeneralization of causatives and transfer in L2 Spanish and L2 English. In D. Eddington (Ed.), Selected Proceedings of the 6th Conference on the Acquisition of Spanish and Portuguese as First and Second Languages (pp. 15–30). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.
(2011) Commentary: Pedagogical implications of experimental SNS research. Heritage Language Journal, 81, 134–151.
(1989) A semantics for unaccusatives and its syntactic consequences. Unpublished manuscript, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.
Cuza, A., & Frank, J
(2011) Transfer effects at the syntax-semantics interface: The case of double-que questions in heritage Spanish. The Heritage Language Journal, 81, 66–89.
(2006) A frequency dictionary of Spanish: Core vocabulary for learners. New York: Routledge.
De Prada Pérez, A., & Pascual y Cabo, D
(2011) Invariable gusta in the Spanish of heritage speakers in the US. In J. Hershenschon & D. Tanner (Eds.), Proceedings of the 11th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference (pp. 110–120). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.
(2000) A typology of causatives: Form, syntax, and meaning. In R.M.W. Dixon & A.Y. Aikhenvald (Eds.), Changing valency: Case studies in transitivity (pp. 30–83). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Fairclough, M., Belpoliti, F., & Bermejo, E
(2010) Developing an electronic placement examination for heritage learners of Spanish: Challenges and payoffs. Hispania, 931, 273–291.
Gropen, J., Blaskovich, J., & DeDe, G
(1996) Come it closer: Causative errors in child speech. In A. Stringfellow, D. Cahana-Armita, E. Hughes, & A. Zukowski (Eds.), Proceedings of the 20th Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 272–283). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
(2001) Evidence of lexical transfer in learner syntax: The acquisition of English causatives by speakers of Hindi-Urdu and Vietnamese. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 231, 71–102.
Hopper, P., & Thompson, S
(1980) Transitivity in grammar and discourse. Language, 561, 251–299.
(2007) On the typology of auxiliary selection. Lingua, 117(9), 1522–1540.
Levin, B., & Rappaport Hovav, M
(1995) Unaccusativity: At the syntax-lexical semantics interface. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Levin, B., & Rappaport Hovav, M
(2005) Argument realization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
(2008) The linguistic similarities of Spanish heritage and second language learners. Foreign Language Annals, 411, 252–281.
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
(5th ed.) (2009) London: Pearson Longman.
(2005) Causative alternation errors in child language acquisition. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.
(2006) Causative alternation errors as event-driven construction paradigm completions. In E.V. Clark & B.F Kelly (Eds.), Constructions in acquisition (pp. 1–23). Stanford, CA: CSLI.
McKoon, G., & Macfarland, T
(2000) Externally and internally caused change of state verbs. Language, 761, 833–858.
(2009) Vivas en su jardín: La verdadera historia de las hermanas Mirabal y su lucha por la libertad [Alive in their garden: The true story of the Mirabal sisters and their fight for freedom]. New York: Vintage Español.
(1999) Causative errors with unaccusative verbs in L2 Spanish. Second Language Research, 151, 191–219.
(2001) Agentive verbs of manner of motion in Spanish and English as second languages. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 231, 171–206.
(2005) Second language acquisition and first language loss in adult early bilinguals: Exploring some differences and similarities. Second Language Research, 21(3), 199–249.
(2006) On the bilingual competence of Spanish heritage speakers: Syntax, lexical-semantics and processing. International Journal of Bilingualism, 101, 37–69.
(2009) Knowledge of tense-aspect and mood in Spanish heritage speakers. International Journal of Bilingualism, 131, 239–269.
(2010) Dominant language transfer in adult second language learners and heritage speakers. Second Language Research, 26(3), 293–327.
(2011a) Spanish heritage speakers: Bridging formal linguistics, psycholinguistics, and pedagogy [Introduction to special issue]. Heritage Language Journal, 81, i–v.
(2011b) Morphological errors in Spanish second language learners and heritage speakers. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 331, 163–192.
Montrul, S., & Bowles, M
(2009) Back to basics: Incomplete knowledge of differential object marking in Spanish heritage speakers. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 121, 363–383.
Montrul, S., Foote, R., & Perpiñán, S
(2008) Gender agreement in adult second language learners and Spanish heritage speakers: The effects of age and context of acquisition. Language Learning, 581, 503–53.
Montrul, S., & Ionin, T
(2010) Transfer effects in the interpretation of definite articles by Spanish heritage speakers. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 131, 449–473.
Montrul, S., & Polinsky, M
(2011) Why not heritage speakers?Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 11, 58–62.
(1993) Second language acquisition of lexically constrained transitivity alternations: Acquisition of the causative alternation by second language learners of English. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.
(2010) Usage and experiential factors as predictors of Spanish morphosyntactic competence in US heritage speakers. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.
Otheguy, R., & Stern, N
(2011) On so-called Spanglish. International Journal of Bilingualism, 15(1), 85–100.
Pascual y Cabo, D., & Rothman, J
(2012) The (il) logical problem of heritage speaker bilingualism and incomplete acquisition. Applied Linguistics, 33(4), 450–455.
(1978) Impersonal passives and the unaccusative hypothesis. In Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society (pp. 157–189). University of California, Berkeley.
(1989) Learnability and cognition: The acquisition of argument structure. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Pires, A., & Rothman, J
(2009) Disentangling sources of incomplete acquisition: An explanation for competence divergence across heritage grammars. International Journal of Bilingualism, 131, 211–238.
(2008) Gender under incomplete acquisition: Heritage speakers’ knowledge of noun categorization. Heritage Language Journal, 61, 40–71.
(2011) Reanalysis in adult heritage language: New evidence in support of attrition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 331, 305–328.
Potowski, K., Jegerski, J., & Morgan-Short, K
(2009) The effects of instruction on linguistic development in Spanish heritage language speakers. Language Learning, 591, 537–579.
1994: A cross-linguistic approach to the causative alternation. In Y. Levi (Ed.), Other children, other languages (pp. 109–138). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Real Academia Española
(2005) Diccionario panhispánico de dudas. Spain: Santillana.
(2011) Unaccusativity and word order in Mexican Spanish: An examination of syntactic interfaces and the split intransitivity hierarchy. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA.
(2007) Heritage speaker competence differences, language change and input type: Inflected infinitives in heritage Brazilian Portuguese. International Journal of Bilingualism, 11(4), 359–389.
(2009a) Understanding the nature and outcomes of early bilingualism: Romance languages as heritage languages. International Journal of Bilingualism, 131, 155–163.
(2009b) Pragmatic deficits with syntactic consequences?: L2 pronominal subjects and the syntax-pragmatics interface. Journal of Pragmatics, 411, 951–973.
(2006) Causative hacer and dejar. In J.C. Clements & J. Yoon (Eds.), Functional approaches to Spanish syntax (pp. 278–299). UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
(1976) The grammar of causative constructions: A conspectus. In M. Shibatani (Ed.), Syntax and semantics 6: The grammar of causative constructions (pp. 1–40). New York: Academic Press.
Shibatani, M., & Pardeshi, P
(2002) The causative continuum. In M. Shibatani (Ed.), The grammar of causation and interpersonal manipulation (pp. 85–126). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
(2008) The limits of convergence in language contact. Journal of Language Contact, 21, 213–224.
(1970) Jespersen’s ‘move and change’ class and causative verbs in English. In M.A. Jazayery, E.C. Polomé, & W. Winter (Eds.), Linguistic and literary studies in honor of Archibald A. Hill: Descriptive linguistics (Vol. 21, pp. 101–109). Mouton: The Hague.
(2000) Gradients in auxiliary selection with intransitive verbs. Language, 76(4), 859–890.
(2004) Gradience at the lexicon-syntax interface: Evidence from auxiliary selection and implications for unaccusativity. In A. Alexiadou, E. Anagnostopoulou, & M. Everaert (Eds.), The unaccusativity puzzle (pp. 243–268). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
(2004) The role of entrenchment in children’s and adults’ performance on grammaticality judgment tasks. Cognitive Development, 191, 15–34.
Tsimpli, I., & Sorace, A
(2006) Differentiating interfaces: L2 performance in syntax-semantics and syntax-discourse phenomena. In D. Bamman, T. Magnitskaia, & C. Zaller (Eds.), Proceedings of the 30th Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 653–664). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
(2005) Bilingualism, heritage language learners, and SLA research: Opportunities lost or seized?The Modern Language Journal, 89(3), 410–426.
(2011) Second language acquisition at the interfaces. Lingua, 1211, 577–590.
(2003) Direct causation in the linguistic coding and individuation of causal events. Cognition, 881, 1–48.
Zapata, G., Sánchez, L., & Toribio, A.J
(2005) Contact and contracting Spanish. International Journal of Bilingualism, 91, 377–395.
(1985) The relation between morphophonology and morphosyntax: The case of Romance causatives. Linguistic Inquiry, 161, 247–289.
Zubizarreta, M.L., & Oh, E
(2007) On the syntactic composition of manner and motion. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
in press). Expressing causation in Spanish: A functional analysis of heritage speakers’ written production. Heritage Language Journal, 11(1).
Cited by 6 other publications
2022. Syntactic licensing in heritage Spanish: Psych verbs and the middle voice. International Journal of Bilingualism► pp. 136700692211217 ff.
Gonzalez, Becky Halloran
2020. The Syntactic Distribution of Object Experiencer Psych Verbs in Heritage Spanish. Languages 5:4 ► pp. 63 ff.
2021. Semantics of Heritage Languages. In The Cambridge Handbook of Heritage Languages and Linguistics, ► pp. 668 ff.
Ionin, Tania & Eve Zyzik
2014. Judgment and Interpretation Tasks in Second Language Research. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 34 ► pp. 37 ff.
2021. Grammatical Aspects of Heritage Languages. In The Cambridge Handbook of Heritage Languages and Linguistics, ► pp. 579 ff.
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 25 may 2023. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers.
Any errors therein should be reported to them.