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Representational and processing constraints on the acquisition of case and gender by heritage and L2 learners of Russian: a corpus study.

Peirce, Gina M. (2018) Representational and processing constraints on the acquisition of case and gender by heritage and L2 learners of Russian: a corpus study. Heritage Language Journal, 15 (1). pp. 95-115. ISSN 1550-7076

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Morphological errors are prevalent in adult second language production, particularly among learners whose first languages have less complex inflectional systems. Thus, U.S. learners of Russian can provide a testing ground for competing approaches to L2 morphological acquisition. This study utilizes the Russian Learner Corpus of Academic Writing (2017) to compare case and gender-marking error frequencies in timed versus untimed essays by advanced heritage and traditional L2 learners in Portland State University’s Russian Language Flagship program.

It was predicted that higher error rates in timed compositions would support the position that advanced learners’ morphological errors reflect processing difficulties under time pressure. However, such differences did not reach significance for either heritage or L2 learners; in the latter group, error rates were higher in students’ untimed texts. These results could be interpreted as demonstrating representational deficits in interlanguage grammar, particularly in the L2 group. However, greater complexity (words per T-unit) of the untimed essays provides an alternative explanation for the higher untimed error rate among this group. The heritage group had lower overall case and gender-marking error rates than the L2 group, suggesting heritage learners are less likely to show evidence of possible representational deficits of nominal functional features in their interlanguage grammar.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Peirce, Gina M.gbpeirce@pitt.eduGBPEIRCE
Centers: Other Centers, Institutes, Offices, or Units > Center for Russian and East European Studies
Date: 30 April 2018
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Heritage Language Journal
Volume: 15
Number: 1
Publisher: National Heritage Language Resource Center, UCLA
Page Range: pp. 95-115
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Linguistics
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Russian, morphology, corpus, linguistics, language acquisition, heritage language
ISSN: 1550-7076
Official URL:
Related URLs:
Article Type: Research Article
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2018 12:51
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2018 12:51


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