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Description: Twi (Akan) and English can both express diminutive meaning using a morphological strategy (diminutive suffix) or a syntactic strategy (adjectival construction), but they differ with respect to native speaker (NS) preferences -- morphological in Twi, syntactic in English. Each strategy in Twi, moreover, is associated with a different type of complexity, either morphophonological or syntactic. We provide evidence from elicited production that English-dominant heritage speakers (HSs) of Twi in the US express diminutive meaning in Twi differently from NSs, in a manner that favors syntactic complexity: whereas US-based NSs rely on the morphological strategy, HSs rely on the syntactic strategy, producing adjectives post-nominally in accordance with Twi syntax. These results are discussed in light of variation in HSs’ morphological awareness and verbal fluency in Twi. Overall, our findings suggest that both the incremental complexity of linguistic options within a bilingual language repertoire and cross-linguistic influence at the level of preferences play a role in explaining HSs’ diminutive production.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International


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Dataset for Kpogo, Kohut, & Chang (2023)

Full dataset for Kpogo, Kohut, and Chang (2023, "Expressing diminutive meaning in heritage Twi: The role of complexity and language-specific preferenc...

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Materials for Kpogo, Kohut, & Chang (2023)

Materials for Kpogo, Kohut, and Chang (2023, "Expressing diminutive meaning in heritage Twi: The role of complexity and language-specific preferences"...

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