Volume 13, Issue 6
  • ISSN 1879-9264
  • E-ISSN: 1879-9272
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Naturalistic production research has reported that, unlike monolingual peers, children acquiring Spanish as a heritage language omit Differential Object Marking (DOM) with animate objects since the earliest stages of language development. However, the previous studies investigating longitudinal monolingual and bilingual corpora cannot be compared to each other given their different treatment of language-internal variation in DOM use along the animacy scale. Whereas monolingual results excluded contexts predicted to be variable, bilingual results combined them with categorical contexts increasing the rate of “errors” in the bilingual group. This study reexamines naturalistic production by monolingual and early bilingual children as well as by their caregivers using a common methodology that distinguishes categorical from variable DOM contexts. The results indicate that longitudinal corpora covering child heritage speakers’ development up to age three do not show evidence of greater omission of DOM compared to monolingual children once variability along the animacy scale is accounted for. By contrast, young monolingual and bilingual children’s use of Spanish DOM seems target-like based on their input.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): animacy; child heritage language; differential object marking; Spanish; variation
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