Talk: Aspect use in child speakers of heritage Russian

Heritage languages are notorious for substantial deviations from the standard language in various linguistic domains. The patterns of these changes and their explanation are treated differently in contemporary research (see Polinsky 2018 for a discussion). Aspect is one of such domains, which undergo alternations in heritage-speaking children (Gagarina 2008; Montrul 2002; Polinsky 2018). Previous research on child speakers of heritage Russian (HR) reported atypical aspect-tense usage (Anstatt 2008; Gagarina 2008). This talk examines patterns of aspect use that deviate from the monolingual acquisition. In particular, I investigate qualitative and quantitative differences in the perfective and imperfective uses in a total of 172 Russian narratives elicited via MAIN (Gagarina et al. 2012) in four countries. Narratives of 30 children in Germany (mean age = 82 months), 32 in Israel (mean age = 70 months), and 20 in Cyprus (mean age = 68 months) are compared to the data from 25 age-matched Russian monolingual typically developing children and 25 monolingual children with a developmental language disorder. Specific trajectories of aspect use were found in HR-speakers, as well as differences between bilingual and monolingual speakers. Second-language specific error patterns were identified.

Anstatt, T. (2008). Aspect and tense in storytelling by Russian, German and bilingual children. Russian Linguistics, 32(1), 1–26.
Gagarina, N., Klop, D., Kunnari, S., Tantele, K., Välimaa, T., Balčiūnienė, I., Bohnacker, U., & Walters, J. (2012). MAIN: Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives. ZAS Papers in Linguistics, 56.
Gagarina, N. (2008). Oshibki v upotreblenii glagol'nyh form pri usvoenii det'mi russkogo jazyka. Bulletin of the Leningrad State University, 1-16.
Polinsky, M. (2018). Heritage Languages and their Speakers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Montrul, S. (2002). Incomplete acquisition and attrition of Spanish tense/aspect distinctions in adult bilinguals. Bilingualism, 5(1), 39.

Longitudinal Studies:


Day: 2020-11-19
Start time: 09:00
Duration: 00:30
Room: Ruqaiya Hasan
Track: Neuro- and Psycholinguistics
Language: en



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