CIRCL: Cass Lowry (Heritage Morphosyntax)

MAR 03, 2020 | 6:30 PM TO 8:30 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




March 03, 2020: 6:30 PM-8:30 PM




Cass Lowry will be presenting on a topic in Heritage Morphosyntax

Morphosyntactic Restructuring in Child Heritage Georgian


This study investigates morphosyntactic restructuring in Heritage Georgian, a highly agglutinative language with polypersonal agreement. Child heritage speakers of Georgian (n=26, age 3-16) completed a Frog Story narrative task and a lexical proficiency task in Georgian. Heritage speaker narratives were compared to narratives produced by age-matched peers living in Georgia (n=30, age 5-14) and Georgian children who moved to the US during their school years (n=7, age 9–24). Heritage Georgian speakers produced significantly more instances of non-standard nominal case marking and non-standard verbal subject agreement than their Georgian peers. Individual morphosyntactic divergence was predicted by lexical score, but not by oral fluency or age. Qualitative analysis show that restructuring in the nominal domain typically involves overuse of the default case (nominative), resulting in a partial leveling of the paradigm; however, some speakers over-extend more salient cases (ergative, dative) in replacement of the default case. In the verbal domain, person agreement i more consistently marked than number agreement. Results indicate that morphosyntactic restructuring in children’s Georgian heritage-language grammars displays the same vulnerabilities as both adult heritage-language grammars (Polinsky & Scontras, 2020b) and child heritage-language grammars of analytic languages (e.g., Heritage English; Polinsky, 2018).