The interpretation of syntactically unconstrained anaphors in Turkish heritage speakers

Gračanin-Yuksek M., Lago S., Şafak D. F., Demir O., Kırkıcı B.

SECOND LANGUAGE RESEARCH, vol.36, no.4, pp.475-501, 2020 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 36 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/0267658319841403
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, Communication & Mass Media Index, EBSCO Education Source, Educational research abstracts (ERA), ERIC (Education Resources Information Center), Linguistic Bibliography, Linguistics & Language Behavior Abstracts, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, DIALNET
  • Page Numbers: pp.475-501
  • Keywords: anaphors, German, heritage language, sentence processing, Turkish, EYE-MOVEMENTS, BINDING, MEMORY, ATTRITION, PRONOUNS, ENGLISH, ACQUISITION, BILINGUALS, HYPOTHESIS, REFLEXIVES
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Previous work has shown that heritage grammars are often simplified compared to their monolingual counterparts, especially in domains in which the societally-dominant language makes fewer distinctions than the heritage language. We investigated whether linguistic simplification extended to the anaphoric system of Turkish heritage speakers living in Germany. Whereas the Turkish monolingual grammar features a three-way distinction between reflexives (kendi), pronouns (o), and syntactically-unconstrained anaphors (kendisi), German only distinguishes between two categories, pronouns and reflexives. We examined whether heritage speakers simplified the Turkish anaphor system by assimilating the syntactically unconstrained anaphorkendisito either of the two categories attested in the societally-dominant language, German. Speakers' sensitivity to grammatical distinctions in comprehension was assessed using an offline antecedent selection task and an online self-paced reading task. Our results showed that heritage speakers retain the three-way anaphoric distinctions of the monolingual grammar but there were also differences between the results of the offline and the online tasks. We suggest that processing paradigms are a useful complement to judgment tasks when studying how heritage speakers use grammatical distinctions involving optionality, as online measures can reveal distinctions that are allowed, even if dispreferred by comprehenders.