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Null Direct Object Clitics in Basque Spanish: A Study Across Four Generations

Authors
  • Gondra, Ager1
  • 1 University of Miami, USA , (United States)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics
Publisher
De Gruyter
Publication Date
Sep 16, 2021
Volume
14
Issue
2
Pages
349–384
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1515/shll-2021-2048
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

The null direct object clitic is described as one of the distinctive morphosyntactic features of Basque Spanish (e.g., compré el libro i , pero se me ha olvidado traer øi). However, no study to date has explored the variable usage of this form in cross-generational terms. The present inquiry aims to fill this void by analyzing and contrasting the results of two studies by four generations of Spanish-Basque bilinguals with the following age ranges: 85–96 (Generation 1), 55–75 (Generation 2), 35–45 (Generation 3), 18–25 (Generation 4). The education level of the participants was also taken into consideration. The first study consisted of an acceptability judgment task, in which the participants rated the acceptability of sentences with a null direct object using a 5-point Likert scale. The independent linguistic variables in this study were the semantic features [+/-definiteness] and [+/-specificity]. The acceptance rate of null direct object clitics was significantly higher among Generation 1 and 2 speakers than among those of Generation 3 and 4, with no effect of definiteness or specificity. In the second study, based on an elicitation task, older speakers (Generation 1 and 2) produced significantly more null direct object clitics than their younger counterparts (Generation 3 and 4). By contrasting the differential behavior of the participants across and within the same generation, it is shown that the generational effects observed are mainly due to the participants’ different levels of formal education.

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