Carmen Silva-CorvalánUniversity of Southern California
Carmen Silva-Corvalán is Professor of Spanish Linguistics in the department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Southern California. She has taught at this university since she obtained her PhD in Linguistics from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1979. She has been awarded two National Science Foundation grants for the study of Spanish in Los Angeles. Her book Language contact and change: Spanish in Los Angeles (Oxford: Clarendon, 1994) is widely cited in studies of bilingualism and language contact. She has published extensively in these areas of linguistics, as well as in variationist sociolinguistics. Within the framework of variation theory, Silva-Corvalán has published on the discourse-pragmatic constraints which condition syntactic variation in Spanish. She has been in the board of editors of numerous journals, she was co-editor of the prestigious journal Bilingualism: Language and Cognition (Cambridge Univ. Press) from 2005 to 2013 and she is currently a member of its editorial board. Her publications include Sociolingüística y pragmática del español (Georgetown Univ. Press, 2001), Spanish in four continents: Studies in language contact and bilingualism (Georgetown Univ. Press, 1995), and close to one hundred articles in journals and anthologies. Her current research deals with the development of grammar and communicative skills by Spanish-English bilingual children. Her forthcoming book, Bilingual Language Acquisition: Spanish and English in the first six years (Cambridge University Press to appear in Jan., 2014), reflects her current research focus on child language development. Today, she will speak about some of the findings in this book.
She was co-editor of the prestigious journal Bilingualism: Language and Cognition (Cambridge Univ. Press) until 2013 … board of editors …. Other of her publications include Sociolingüística y pragmática del español (Georgetown Univ. Press, 2001), Spanish in four continents: Studies in language contact and bilingualism (edited vol., Georgetown Univ. Press, 1995), and close to 100 articles in journals and anthologies. More recent ones include “Acquisition of Spanish in bilingual contexts.” In Handbook of Hispanic linguistics,” ed. by Ignacio Hualde, Antxon Olarrea & Erin O’Rourke. Oxford: Blackwell, 2012, pp. 783-801; "Spanish in the Southwest". In Language in the USA. Finegan, E., & J. Rickford (eds.), 205-229. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004; “Linguistic consequences of reduced input in bilingual first language acquisition”. In Linguistic Theory and Language Development in Hispanic Languages. Montrul, S. & F. Ordóñez (eds.), 375-397. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press, 2003; "La situación del español en Estados Unidos". El español en el mundo. Anuario del Instituto Cervantes, 2000. Barcelona: Plaza & Janés, 2000, 65-116.
Research on the language of heritage speakers has shown that in situations of societal bilingualism the functionally restricted language evidences, among other phenomena, the simplification of some grammatical domains. In this context, a recurring question is whether this stage of grammatical simplification is due to imperfect or incomplete acquisition in the early years of a bilingual's life, or a result of processes of attrition or loss of acquired knowledge of the underused language. In this presentation, I will describe aspects of the Spanish- English bilingual development of two siblings in their early years, and I will point out similarities between their Spanish and that of adult heritage speakers. The siblings are heritage speakers-to-be, who by the age of 6;0 showed unequal control of the minoritized language, a feature that finds a parallel in the range of proficiencies identified across heritage speakers. This finding lends support to the idea that at least some of the unusual constructions and reduced grammars of heritage speakers appear to result from incomplete acquisition rather than attrition or loss of knowledge acquired in childhood.