This paper reports on a study investigating restrictions on definiteness (the Definiteness Effect) in existential constructions in the two languages of Turkish heritage speakers in Germany. Turkish and German differ in how the Definiteness Effect plays out. Definite expressions in German may not occur in affirmative or negative existentials, whereas in Turkish the restriction applies only to affirmative existentials. Participants were adults and fell into two groups: simultaneous bilinguals (2L1) who acquired German before age 3 and early sequential bilinguals (2L1) who acquired German after age 4; there were also monolingual controls. The tasks involved acceptability judgments. Subjects were presented with contexts, each followed by a sentence to be judged, including grammatical and ungrammatical existentials. Results show that the bilinguals, regardless of age of acquisition, make judgments appropriate for each language. They reject definite expressions in negative existentials in German and accept them in Turkish, suggesting distinct grammars.
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