Language acquisition and change: The acquisition of the Catalan partitive and locative clitics

Anna Gavarró*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in BookChapterResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Although there exists a considerable body of work on the acquisition of Catalan, the sociolinguistic context in which this acquisition takes place is tacitly assumed to be of no import in the development of mental grammars. Most of the experimental studies conducted on the acquisition of pronominal clitics have been carried out with children who are mainly exposed to Catalan. In a break from this general trend, Perpiñan (2016) stressed that, depending on a child's sociolinguistic background, the acquisition of some grammatical structures may be incomplete, as exemplified by a contrast between the judgments and productions of Catalan-dominant and Spanish-dominant speakers of Catalan with the pronoun clitics en and hi. Extending on Perpiñan's work, I present a new grammaticality judgment task and further explore partitivity in the nominal domain (as Noun ellipsis differs between Catalan and Spanish). The results show a differentiated performance in clitic judgment depending on whether the participants are native speakers of Catalan or Spanish, and a correlation between their judgments on partitive clitic production and partitivity in Noun ellipsis. To account for these results, I hypothesize the emergence of null pronominals as a result of transfer from Spanish in children less exposed to Catalan, in syntactic contexts in which a full pronominal is available in Catalan. The cluster of grammatical properties that characterize Spanish native speakers of Catalan can be accounted for by the loss of an uninterpretable feature in vP and covert marking of partitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLanguage Acquisition and Contact in the Iberian Peninsula
EditorsAlejandro Cuza, Pedro Guijarro-Fuentes
Publisherde Gruyter
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9781501509988
ISBN (Print)9781501516795
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2018

Publication series

NameStudies on Language Acquisition [SOLA]
PublisherDe Gruyter
ISSN (Print)1861-4248


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