Purdue University Graduate School
MA Thesis - Edier Gomez Alzate.pdf (1.35 MB)

The Acquisition of Adverb Placement in Child Heritage Speakers of Spanish

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posted on 2023-04-26, 22:23 authored by Edier Gomez alzateEdier Gomez alzate

This study examines the distribution of adverbs among child heritage speakers of Spanish. As demonstrated by previous research, the grammar of Spanish heritage speakers can be compared to that of monolingual speakers, but with slight differences in their use and interpretation that can occur given their language dominance, usage, and exposition to the heritage language (Camacho & Kirova, 2018). In adverb placement, a relevant difference comes with verb-raising, a syntactic feature that allows the verb (V) to move in the sentence, and that is common in romance languages, but uncommon in morphologically poor languages such as English (Camacho & Sanchez, 2017; Guijarro-Fuentes & Larrañaga, 2011). Other differences in adverb distribution also stem directly from their semantic use and interpretation (Zagona, 2002), differences that may create instances of cross-linguistic influence or transfer between English and Spanish grammars. Hence, this study intends to study the extent to which these phenomena are produced in adverb placement, considering the patterns of language dominance, use, and exposure of the participants and current bilingual research discussing language transfer in bilingual grammars. Hence, an elicited production task was administered to 14 child heritage speakers of Spanish from the U.S. Midwest and to a comparison group, 25 child monolingual Spanish speakers from Mexico. Results suggest that child heritage speakers behave differently in their production of adverb placement compared to monolingual speakers, showing lower accuracy and little use of verb-raising structures that allow them to produce the post-verbal adverb position Sub-Verb-Adv-Obj. These findings suggest a different developmental path in the acquisition of adverb placement for heritage children in comparison to that of monolingual children.


Degree Type

  • Master of Arts


  • Linguistics

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Alejandro Cuza-Blanco

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Dr. Mariko Wei

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Colleen Neary-Sundquist