Vigo International Journal of Applied Linguistics VIAL

Ver&onica;nica Sánchez Abchi. (1). Syntactic Complexity in Narratives Written by Spanish Heritage Speakers. VIAL Number 14/2017: 125-148.


The present study focuses on the analysis of syntactic complexity (SC) in written narratives produced by Spanish heritage language speakers, growing up in a multilingual context. In order to describe the level of syntactic complexity of a text, we considered traditional measures of SC (T-Units, mean length of T-Unit, syntactic complexity index, and percentage of error free clauses). Also, we assessed the type and frequency of subordinate clauses used in the children's written productions. Besides, we explored possible associations between syntactic complexity and different variables (such as age, Spanish input at home and time attending Spanish courses). Finally, we compared the SC performance of the heritage speakers (HS) with that of full Spanish speakers. Results showed that the groups do not differ greatly in the SC of their text productions. Findings are discussed considering the exposure to Spanish and the cognitive demands of writing.

Keywords: Syntactic complexity, Heritage Speakers, Narratives, Written production, Subordinate Clauses

(1) CIIPME, CONICET, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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