Heritage Language Summer Institute University of California, Los Angeles June 18-22, 2012 How native are heritage speakers? Silvina Montrul University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
Who is a native speaker? • We all have an intuitive notion of what a native speaker is or should be (Sharwood-Smith 2011) • Precise definitions are elusive (Davis 2003)
Stability vs. constrained variability • Abstract linguistic knowledge (Chomsky) • Sociolinguistic variation (Labov) • Psycholinguistic variation (working memory, executive control, aptitude, other individual variables)
Knowledge of language complete, stable? Knowledge of language FULLY FLUENT NATIVE SPEAKER DEVELOPING NATIVE SPEAKER Birth 4 yrs 12 yrs 18 yrs 40s
What develops? • A phonological system • A lexicon • A set of grammatical rules and principles • Morphological expressions of forms and meanings • Sentence structure (syntax) • communicative competence • Sociolinguistic competence
Examples of complete, fluent knowledge of language Mature educated native speakers • Pronounce the sounds of their language well • Do not make morphological errors of omission or commission. They are more than 90% accurate on the use of morphology in obligatory contexts. • Know how to conjugate their verbs and make agreement in phrases • Know many words in their language • Speak and write in grammatical sentences. • Understand different meanings of words and phrases • Know how to use language in different sociolinguistic contexts • Have pragmatic competence • Show consistent ceiling performance in tasks of grammatical ability regardless of modality of task
Key variables that define and affect the developing native speaker • Exposure to the language from birth • Use of the language at home • Schooling in the language • Socialization beyond the home in the language • Consistent exposure and language use in a variety of contexts and communicative situations until about early adulthood • Abnormal language development (SLI, down syndrome, autism, etc.)
Types of Native Speakers Monolingual native speakers Bilingual native speakers
Monolingual native speakers vary in SES: low, mid, high SES Literacy: literate, semiliterate, illiterate Pathology: healthy vs. language impaired Other How these variables affect linguistic competence is a matter of debate (see Dabrowska, 2012 and commentaries)
Bilingual native speakers vary in All dimensions of monolingual speakers as well as in • age of acquisition of the 2 languages simultaneous bilinguals sequential bilinguals • degree of use of the language/s fluent vs. non-fluent
Ultimate attainment in monolingual native speakers complete, stable? beginning middle end Knowledge of language FULLY FLUENT NATIVE SPEAKER DEVELOPING NATIVE SPEAKER Birth 4 yrs 12 yrs 18 yrs 40s
What is ultimate attainment? The end state of the acquisition/language development process. Is ultimate attainment always “native” level in bilingual native speakers? NO • It can be fully native, as in monolingual native speakers • It can be near-native, as in some L2 learners • It can be non-native, as in most L2 learners
Typology of Bilingual Native Speakers • The fully fluent native speaker • The interrupted native speaker (heritage speakers, international adoptee) • The attrited native speaker • The bilingual aphasic native speaker • Other?
“Native” ability • Can also be dissociated in bilinguals • E.g., native or near-native in phonology and non-native in morphosyntax (heritage speakers in Au et al. 2002) • Or native/near native in morphosyntax and non-native in phonology (near-natives in White & Genesee 1996) • Very few L2 speakers are “native” on all linguistic dimensions (Abrahamsson & Hyltenstam 2009)
Purpose of this presentation To show that despite exhibiting high degree of variability in degree of ultimate attainment like L2 learners, heritage speakers show a much higher incidence of native ability in morphosyntactic and lexical aspects of language that are extremely hard for L2 learners to master at native levels, even after significant amounts of input.
Heritage speakers and L2 learners If we control for proficiency, does early language experience bring advantages to Spanish heritage speakers in their knowledge of early acquired aspects of morphosyntax when compared to late L2 learners of Spanish? Advantage = more native-like performance
Gender Agreement • Mastered by monolingual Spanish-speaking children error free (100% accuracy) by age 3 (Montrul 2004) in oral production. • Yet, full mastery of gender agreement in production is highly unlikely in L2 acquisition, even in so called near natives, with the highest amount of exposure in the language for several years and proficiency scores on global measures that fall within the range of variation of native speakers.
Examples Franceschina (2001): Case study of Martin (British guy who had been living in Argentina for more than 30 years) Almost 10% of gender agreement errors in production, especially with adjectives, articles and demonstratives. Grüter, Lew-Williams & Fernald 2012: 19 near native speakers of Spanish exhibited 20% errors in an oral production task (17.2% assignment, 2.8% agreement)
Near native ability? • Studies that have found that non-native speakers do not differ from native speakers have used tasks focusing exclusively on regular or canonical ending nouns: ending in –a if feminine and in –o if masculine (e.g., White et al. 2004). • Several studies have shown that gender assignment and agreement with non-canonical or non-transparent nouns take longer to learn and to process (Bates et al.1995, 1996; Taraban & Kempe 1999, Taraban & Roark 1996).
Montrul, Foote & Perpiñán (2008) • 140 Spanish L2 learners and heritage speakers ranging from low to advanced levels of proficiency. • Both L2 learners and heritage speakers made gender errors, especially with non-canonical ending nouns. • Advantages for heritage speakers on gender agreement depending on task. • L2 learners performed better than heritage speakers in highly metalinguistic written tasks. • Heritage speakers performed more accurately than L2 learners in oral production tasks.
Revisiting knowledge of gender agreement (Montrul, Davidson de la Fuente and Foote) Control for modality and avoid use of written language (literacy effect). Investigate both regular and irregular nouns. 4 aural/oral experiments that vary on the implicit/explicit dimension • Timed grammaticality judgment task (GJT) • Timed aural gender monitoring task (GMT) • Timed oral word repetition task (WRT) • Elicited production task (EPT)
Participants • 24 Spanish native speakers (control group) • 29 Spanish heritage speakers (acquired Spanish at birth and English before age 6) • 37 English-speaking L2 learners of Spanish (acquired Spanish after age 12) Heritage speakers and L2 learners ranged from intermediate to advanced based on a written proficiency test.
Picture-Naming Task Rationale: proficiency measure based on oral production Stimuli: 48 inanimate object nouns • frequency of 3 or higher in Spanish (Alameda & Cuetos, 1995) • 24 canonical endings: 12 masculine -o, 12 feminine –a • 24 non-canonical endings: 6 masculine -cons, 6 feminine -cons, 6 masculine -e, 6 feminine -e
Picture-Naming Tasks • Participants completed the task both in Spanish and in English (only HS and L2ers); native speakers only in Spanish. • They were asked to view a series of black and white images and to name them as quickly as possible after hearing the audio prompt “diga” / “say”(recorded by a female Spanish native speaker) • Items in both tasks were presented in random order • Naming accuracy and reaction times (after the onset of the prompt) were measured
Picture-Naming Tasks Image samples Libro“book” Casa“house” Sobre“envelope” Llave“key” Corazón“heart” Flor“flower”
Picture-Naming Tasks: Results English
Picture-Naming Tasks: Results Spanish ** **
Word-Recognition Experiments • Timed grammaticality judgment task (GJT) • Timed aural gender monitoring task (GMT) • Timed word repetition task (WRT) (Bates et al. 1995, 1996, Guillelmon & Grosjean 2001)
Experimental Design • For all three tasks, 300 determiner-noun-adjective phrases (half target, half fillers) were constructed with 150 nouns, 3 determiners (masculine el, feminine la, neutral su) and 7 adjectives. • All nouns were inanimate (half feminine, half masculine) with canonical and non-canonical endings, controlled for syllable length, stress, and frequency. • All tasks used the same stimuli but with different distribution of fillers and targets in 3 conditions.
Conditions used in the three tasks NOTE: only the GMT and the WRT had a neutral condition, the GJT did not.
Procedures • The GMT required participants to listen to the noun phrases and push one of two buttons on the keyboard (one for feminine, one for masculine), depending on the gender of the noun. (VERY EXPLICIT FOCUS ON GENDER) • In the GJT, participants listened to the noun phrases and pushed one of two buttons to indicate whether the phrase was grammatical or ungrammatical. (INDIRECT ATTENTION TO GENDER) • In the WRT, participants heard the noun phrases and were asked to repeat the last word in each phrase as quickly and accurately as possible. (NO ATTENTION TO GENDER)
Gender Monitoring Task: Accuracy Grammaticality effect for all three groups Native speakers > [heritage speakers = L2 learners] Canonicity effect for L2 learners and HS.
Summary Effects GMT(difference % between ungrammatical and grammatical sentences)
Gender Monitoring Task RTs Grammaticality effect for all three groups Native speakers > [heritage speakers = L2 learners] Canonicity effect.
Grammaticality Judgment Task Accuracy Grammaticality effect for all three groups. Native speakers > [heritage speakers = L2 learners]
Grammaticality Judgment Task RTs Grammaticality effect for all three groups Native speakers > [heritage speakers = L2 learners]
Word Repetition Task--RT No grammaticality effect for L2 learners. [native speakers = heritage speakers] >L2 learners
Summary • Canonical and noncanonical nouns are processed differently. Noun ending did not affect the native speakers to the same extent as the two experimental groups. • HS and L2 learners were slower and less accurate on non-canonical ending nouns than on canonical ending nouns. • The results of the GJT and the GMT revealed significant grammaticality effects for all groups. • They use gender cues on determiners in noun recognition. • In the WRT, the NS and the HS showed a grammaticality effect, while the L2 learners did not. • L2 learners may not have the same type of implicit knowledge of gender tested by this type of task.
Task effect Favors heritage speakers Helps L2 learners
Conclusion • These results confirm that HS have an advantage (i.e., show native-like patterns) over L2 learners in tasks tapping implicit knowledge. • Although this advantage could be due to age of onset of bilingualism (early vs. late) (Guillelmon & Grosjean 2001), it may also be related to context of acquisition (naturalistic vs. instructed) and experience with oral production.