When Bilingualism is the common factor: Switch reference at the junction of competence and performance in both second language and heritage language performance

Tiffany Judy, Michael T. Putnam, Jason Rothman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this paper we take a closer look at the oft-touted divide between heritage language speakers and adult second language (L2) learners. Here, we explore whether some properties of language may display general effects across different populations of bilinguals, explaining, at least partially, why these two groups show some common differences when compared with monolinguals. To test this hypothesis, we adduce data from two unique populations of bilinguals: A moribund variety of heritage German spoken in southwestern Kansas (Moundridge Schweitzer German) and L2 adult learners of Spanish. Empirically, we investigate whether the confound of switch reference adds an additional cognitive burden to these bilinguals in licensing object control predicates in the former and referential subject pronouns in the latter. Our preliminary findings support the view that overarching concepts such as incomplete acquisition cannot capture the variability observed in these populations, thus further supporting approaches that interpret findings such as these to be the result of specific variables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)590-616
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Language Contact
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 18 2018


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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