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TitleOn subject realization in infinitival complements of causative and perceptual verbs in european portuguese: evidence from monolingual and bilingual speakers
Author(s)Barbosa, Pilar
Flores, Cristina
Pereira, Cátia
KeywordsSubject realization
Causative and perceptual verbs
Infinitival complements
European Portuguese
Issue date2018
PublisherWalter de Gruyter GmbH
JournalStudies in Second Language Acquisition
CitationBarbosa, Pilar, Flores, Cristina & Pereira, Cátia (2018). On subject realization in infinitival complements of causative and perceptual verbs in European Portuguese. Evidence from monolingual and bilingual speakers. In P. Guijarro-Fuentes & A. Cuza (eds.), Language Acquisition and Contact in the Iberian Peninsula. Mouton de Gruyter, pp.125-158.
Abstract(s)This study aims to investigate knowledge of a heritage language (HL), i.e. the language of origin of bilingual speakers who grow up in the context of migration with exposure to the HL and the dominant language of the host country. We focus on European Portuguese (EP), and concentrate on bi-clausal infinitival complements of causative and perception verbs. These may have different forms depending on whether the infinitival complement is inflected or uninflected. In particular, the subject may be Nominative or Accusative. Two experimental tasks were applied, a Completion Task and an Acceptability Judgment Task, to a total of 60 adult informants: 30 native speakers raised in a monolingual context, and 30 heritage speakers (HSs), raised in a bilingual context with EP as home language and German as environmental language. Overall both groups demonstrate an evident preference for Accusative over Nominative Case marked subjects, regardless of the presence of inflection on the infinitive. Concerning the monolingual group, the most striking result regards the residual rates of Nominative Case marked subjects in the presence of an inflected infinitive in both tasks. This result is unexpected under standard assumptions concerning clause structure in EP. We offer an alternative analysis based on the idea that pre-verbal Nominative Case marked subjects in EP are (typically) left-dislocated topics (Alexiadou & Anagnostopoulou l998; Barbosa 1995). Left-dislocated topics in EP are assigned Nominative Case by default. On this view, preference for avoiding a Nominative subject in the presence of an inflected infinitive reduces to preference for the operation of raising to object over the last resort operation of default (Nominative) Case assignment. This preference can be viewed as an instance of the Paninian principle Blocking, whereby a general, default form is blocked by the existence of a more specific rival form. In this case, the default Case option is blocked by the more specific operation of raising to object. The most significant difference between monolinguals and bilinguals concerns a higher rate of acceptance of Nominative pronouns by HSs, including in uninflected infinitives. This means that, on a par with the predominant raising to object option, the HSs allow Pilar Barbosa, Cristina Flores and Cátia Pereira, Universidade do Minho 126 Pilar Barbosa, Cristina Flores & Cátia Pereira for the default Case strategy; i.e., they fail to apply blocking. This strategy has also been attested in early stages of the acquisition of these constructions by EP monolingual children (Santos et al. 2016), a fact that reinforces the view that the process of acquisition of the HL is native-like in the sense that it goes through the same stages as the process of monolingual acquisition. However, by retaining an option that is no longer available in mature grammars, the HSs reveal protracted development.
TypeBook part
AccessOpen access
Appears in Collections:CEHUM - Livros e Capítulos de Livros

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