Synchronic change in a multidialectal Spanish community

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Recent developments in linguistic theory have successfully reconciled diachronic syntactic change (Biberauer & Roberts, 2006; Breibarth, Lucas, & Willis, 2008; Roberts, 2007) and intra-speaker variation (Adger & Smith, 2005, 2010; Henry, 1995; Barbiers, 2005) with Minimalist models of the language faculty. Cases of L1 attrition, however, whereby morphosyntactic properties in stable adult grammars undergo change, remain unaccounted for by Minimalist theory. Using evidence from the realisation of null and postverbal subjects in the grammar of two groups of native Spanish speakers in different bilingual settings, (Miami and the U.K.) we demonstrate that L1 attrition in language contact situations can similarly be accommodated within Minimalist theory, driven by changes to the lexical feature specifications of functional categories (Adger & Smith, 2010; Gallego, 2011; Holmberg, 2010).


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