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Factors affecting the retention of sentential negation in heritage Egyptian Arabic*

  • ABDULKAFI ALBIRINI (a1) and ELABBAS BENMAMOUN (a2)
Abstract

This study investigates the areas of resilience and vulnerability in sentential negation in heritage Egyptian Arabic and explores their theoretical implications. Egyptian heritage speakers completed three narrative production tasks, five experimental production tasks, and a acceptability judgment task. The results indicate that they have a full grasp of the location of negation and its configurational properties, but diverge from native speakers in such aspects of sentential negation as merger with lexical heads and dependency or licensing relations. We propose that these asymmetric patterns are due to various factors, including the age at which a structure is typically acquired in the L1, as well as its morphological and syntactic characteristics. The results of this study have implications for the ongoing debate in heritage language research about the linguistic areas that display greater stability/vulnerability. For example, phrase structure seems less vulnerable than licensing dependencies and the mapping between syntax and the morphological interface.

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Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Abdulkafi Albirini, Department of Languages, Philosophy, and Communication Studies, Utah State University, 0720 Old Main, Logan, UT 84322, USA abdulkafi.albirini@usu.edu
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We would like to thank the participants, the research assistants, and Rania Al-Sabbagh for their help with the study. We would also like to thank the three anonymous reviewers and Dr. Robert DeKeyser for their helpful and constructive comments and suggestions. Elabbas Benmamoun's research for this paper was supported in part by the National Science Foundation grant BCS 0826672. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of any agency or entity of the United States Government. We are solely responsible for any errors in the paper.

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Bilingualism: Language and Cognition
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