Edited by Leigh B. Fernandez, Kalliopi Katsika, Maialen Iraola Azpiroz and Shanley E.M. Allen
[Benjamins Current Topics 117] 2021
► pp. 159–186
This study investigates 37 child heritage speakers’ direct object (DO) clitics in Spanish. Results from a production task show that DO expression versus omission was related to Spanish vocabulary: the lower the vocabulary score, the more omitted DOs. In contrast, DO clitic gender was related to English: children who used more English in the home and who had higher English vocabulary scores produced more gender mismatches, most notably lo referring to feminine referents. Results from a comprehension task suggest that children do not attend to clitic gender for referent identification. We argue that the disambiguation function of DO clitic gender, which is infrequent in discourse, may take a long time to develop. Overall, the study suggests that the extent to which restricted input and crosslinguistic influence affect child heritage speakers’ minority language grammar may be mediated by the nature of the linguistic phenomenon in question.