Inappropriate Choice of Definites in Turkish Heritage Speakers of German

Claudia Felser 1 Seçkin Arslan 2
2 BCL, équipe Langage et Cognition
BCL - Bases, Corpus, Langage (UMR 7320 - UNS / CNRS)
Abstract : The appropriate use of (in-)definites can be notoriously difficult for language learners to acquire, suggesting that this linguistic domain is particularly prone to instability in language acquisition. The current study investigates whether heritage speakers also have difficulties in this domain. We report the results from a questionnaire study investigating heritage speakers' sensitivity to contextual cues to the appropriate use of (in-)definites both in their native language (Turkish) and in their second, societally dominant language (German). The results show that Turkish heritage speakers over-use definite noun phrases in contexts that normally require an indefinite noun phrase in both Turkish and German, in comparison to non-bilingual Turkish and German-speaking controls. This indicates that sensitivity to pragmatic constraints on the use of (in-)definites are generally reduced in languages that were acquired under conditions that differ from those of typical monolingually raised speakers, regardless of the age at which these languages were acquired or how definiteness is expressed morphosyntactically. Instead, our heritage speakers' daily use of Turkish proved to be the strongest predictor for their performance. Together, our findings indicate divergent attainment in both of our heritage speakers' languages, with pragmatic constraints on the use of (in-) definites being weakened in both Turkish and German.
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Claudia Felser, Seçkin Arslan. Inappropriate Choice of Definites in Turkish Heritage Speakers of German. Heritage Language Journal, Center for World Languages of UCLA, UC Consortium for Language Learning and Teaching, 2019, 16(1). ⟨hal-02126829v2⟩

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