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Research Projects

Minority language acquisition

This research examines children’s acquisition of minority languages in New Mexico and examines children’s use of demonstratives in Spanish and in ASL. We ask how children’s and adults’ conceptualization of shared space is manifested in their use of demonstratives. We ask whether/how restricted input in the minority language (Spanish or ASL) affects children’s demonstratives. *Funded by an ADVANCE UNM Women in Stem award. In collaboration with YDI Head Start, we are also investigating standardized progress monitoring tests commonly used to assess children's language skills to determine whether these tests are appropriate for our multilingual and multicultural community. *Funded by the McCune Charitable Foundation.

Bilingual children's direct object clitics and grammatical gender

This project focuses on bilingual children’s comprehension and production of direct object clitic gender in Spanish (lo, la, los, las).* Our findings indicate that children with higher English vocabulary scores and higher levels of English use at home produce more gender mismatches, especially the use of lo to refer to inanimate feminine referents. In contrast, Spanish vocabulary scores, but not English vocabulary or use, correlate with direct object expression with transitive verbs. *Funded by SI Foundation and UNM RAC.

Children’s acquisition of morphosyntactic variation

Despite the widespread demonstration that the variable linguistic behavior of adults is highly systematic (e.g. Labov 1994), it is not yet well understood when and how children learn such variation and converge on probabilistic components of grammar. Do the most frequent constraints on variation emerge before less frequent constraints? Do constraints emerge first in frequent structures? How does language contact impact bilingual children’s acquisition of morphosyntactic variation? These are some of the questions Naomi Shin has addressed in corpus studies of monolingual children’s acquisition of Spanish subject pronoun expression and subject-verb ~ verb-subject word order.