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date: 05 December 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides an overview of studies on the use/interpretation of first language (L1) pronominals by late bilinguals who immigrated as adults to a second language (L2), living there for an extended period speaking the majority L2. It discusses how, among other linguistic properties, vulnerability in the L1 pronominal system has been documented. The chapter discusses why pronominals have become topical in L1 attrition research and reviews relevant research, demonstrating how different linguistic analyses proposed for adult L2 acquisition can also help identify the (un)changing characteristics of mature L1 grammar. The chapter deliberately confines itself to generative linguistics-based L1 attrition studies involving late bilinguals residing in an L2 country as first-generation immigrants, who typically become dominant L2 users after puberty, after which developmental point the L1 grammatical competence is believed to stabilize. Thus, any qualitative changes in L1 grammar of post-puberty bilinguals may have far-reaching implications for the alterability of L1 linguistic competence due to the L2. Studies discussed in this chapter are thus revealing as to the nature of the L1 attrition phenomenon in the pronominal domain.

Keywords: Binding Principles, cross-linguistic transfer, first language attrition, null pronouns, null-subject languages, overt pronouns, Turkish, Universal Grammar

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