Year of Study in Programme: First

Supervisors: Dr Montserrat Capdevila & Dr Elisabet Pladevall

Area/Topic of Research: Bilingualism, Language Attrition, Psycholinguistics

Title/Provisional Title of Thesis: Dimensions of Bilingual Proficiency: Intergenerational Attrition in English-Catalan Bilinguals

Short Abstract: Montrul (2016) defines heritage speakers (HS) as individuals who grew up in a bilingual environment where a majority and a heritage language are spoken. HS are an interesting source of linguistic data due to the conditions in which their bilingual development unfolds. In fact, “HS present a unique testbed for issues of acquisition, maintenance and transfer within linguistic theory” (Scontras et al., 2015: 3). This study seeks to explore the (1)the effect of parental input on the bilingual development of English-Catalan children living in an anglophone context, (2)their parents’ L1 (i.e. Catalan) attrition, and (3)the differences between HS’ language features and those of peers in the home country. The Bilingual Language Exposure Calculator (Unsworth, 2013) will be used to elicit data on the amount of input and output that a child is exposed to/produces during their lifespan. By means of controlled and free speech elicitation techniques, morphosyntactic, phonological and lexical features vulnerable to attrition will be investigated in HS (English and Catalan), their parents (Catalan) and the home country peers (English or Catalan). Morphosyntax will be investigated by means of film retelling task, the lexicon will be tested using a picture naming task and a foreign accent rating task will elicit data on bilingual phonology. A C-test will also be administered in order to assess the children’s proficiency in both languages and of their parents in Catalan. Correlations between quantity and quality input and the output scores of these tasks as well as comparisons between heritage children’s linguistic features and their home country peers will be done in order to address the main aim of the present study.