Gender Agreement in Heritage Grammars

When and Where

Friday, November 20, 2020 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm
Online, via Zoom


Maria Polinsky


This talk presents and analyzes differences in gender agreement between heritage languages and the baseline. Within the realm of morphology, gender agreement is among the often-cited areas of divergence between heritage and baseline speakers. In contrast, agreement in person is rarely problematic in heritage languages. After presenting empirical data illustrating this divergence, the presentation will address the following questions: (1) What can explain the asymmetry between the features [person] and [gender] in heritage grammar agreement? (2) What is the status of the feature [number] in heritage grammars? In the process of addressing these questions, I will additionally consider whether the heritage data shed new light on existing theories of morphological gender and of the lexicon more broadly.


About the Presenter
Maria Polinsky is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her research interests include Syntactic theory, Language universals and the range of cross-linguistic variation, Heritage languages and their bearing on linguistic theory. Prof. Polinsky works on various topics including syntax-prosody interface, long-distance dependencies, ergativity, verb-initial orders. She has done primary work on a variety of languages: languages of the Caucasus, Austronesian, and Mayan languages. Her research also includes structural properties of language spoken by unbalanced bilinguals: what is now known as heritage language.

Contact Information


Department of Spanish & Portuguese, Heritage Vowels and Agreement Project