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Languages 2018, 3(4), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages3040046

The Interpretation of Adjective-N Sequences in Spanish Heritage

Linguistics Department, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA
Received: 6 October 2018 / Revised: 11 November 2018 / Accepted: 19 November 2018 / Published: 23 November 2018
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Abstract

Adjectives appear predominantly postnominally in Spanish, and when prenominal, cannot be interpreted as restrictive. We explore whether heritage speakers of Spanish have the same interpretive and ordering restriction as monolinguals. Twenty-two US college-age heritage speakers and 17 college-age monolinguals from Peru completed a rating task that manipulated word order and interpretation. Items varied in word order (Adj-N/N-Adj) and interpretation (restrictive-only, color and nationality adjectives, and ambiguous adjectives, restrictive and non-restrictive), all framed within a context that favored a restrictive interpretation. Both groups judged Adj-N orders lower than N-Adj orders, and restrictive adjectives lower in prenominal position than ambiguous adjectives. Consequently, we argue that heritage speakers (HS) have the relevant knowledge regarding word order and interpretation, and the interactions among the two properties. We propose a syntactic representation involving NP-raising for both groups, and suggest that in some cases, the higher copy of the NP is deleted, resulting in the linear order Adj-N. We also argue that this analysis may explain the range of individual variation across heritage speakers. View Full-Text
Keywords: adjective word order; heritage speakers; restrictive adjective; DP-structure; copy-theory of movement; heritage speaker variation adjective word order; heritage speakers; restrictive adjective; DP-structure; copy-theory of movement; heritage speaker variation
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Camacho, J. The Interpretation of Adjective-N Sequences in Spanish Heritage. Languages 2018, 3, 46.

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