The Second-Generation Bilinguals Project

PIs: Dr. Gita Martohardjono, Dr. Ricardo Otheguy, Dr. Richard Schwartz, and Dr. Valerie Shafer

Current Project Manager: Cass Lowry

In this research project, conducted in cooperation with RISLUS, we are investigating the Spanish spoken by Spanish-English bilinguals in New York City. Our objective is to examine language change across generations in the bilingual Hispanic community by analyzing processing patterns for a variety of syntactic structures. We are using event-related potentials (ERP) to measure implicit brain responses to syntactic anomaly, as well as a secondary implicit measure, pupillometry. Explicit behavioral measures such as sentence acceptability judgments are also taken.

Subj1cond26_32 copyImplicit and explicit measures will be analyzed in relation to a wide range of speaker characteristics, including demographic and sociolinguistic variables. By measuring whether and how these characteristics predict processing patterns, we will be able to go beyond the usual comparisons that rely on categories of “native” vs. “heritage” speaker, while addressing questions related to short-term language change, including contact-induced change. Through this investigation, we hope to gain insight regarding the susceptibility of certain aspects of Spanish grammar to intergenerational change in environments where Spanish is not the socially dominant language, such as NYC.

We presented results from the pilot phase of this project at The 40th Penn Linguistics Conference (PLC40) at the University of Pennsylvania on March 19, 2016 and at the Sociolinguistic Variation and Language Processing Conference (SVALP) at Virginia Tech on April 1, 2016.



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