Aspectual se and Telicity in Heritage Spanish Bilinguals: The Effects of Lexical Access, Dominance, Age of Acquisition, and Patterns of Language Use


While differences in the production and acceptability of aspectual inflectional morphology between Spanish–English heritage and monolingually raised speakers of Spanish have been argued to support incomplete acquisition approaches to heritage language acquisition, other approaches have argued that differences in access (e.g., lexical access) to representations for receptive and productive purposes are at the core of some of the unique characteristics of heritage language data. We investigate these issues by focusing on the effects of lexical access, dominance, age of acquisition and patterns of language use in heritage Spanish–English bilinguals. We study aspectual se in Spanish, which yields telic interpretations, in expressions such as María se comió la manzana ‘María ate the apple (completely)’ and Maria ate the apple (where completion may not be reached). Our results indicate that se generates telic interpretations for the heritage and monolingually raised group with no group effect. Heritage speakers showed no English effects in terms of lexical access, age of acquisition, patterns of language use or dominance. This suggests that the heritage group did not differ from their monolingually raised counterparts and showed no evidence of incomplete acquisition of telicity.




Languages 8 (3): 201 (2023)