Recent research has identified several vulnerable areas in heritage language grammars, among which morphosyntax is among the most affected. In this study, we report on the morphosyntactic competence of Hindi heritage speakers living in the U.S and show that these speakers have representational problems with ergative, accusative and dative case morphology, albeit to different degrees. Hindi is a split ergative language with a complex interaction of case and agreement. Transitive predicates in perfective aspect co-occur with subjects marked with ergative case (-ne) and object agreement. Animate specific direct objects are marked with the particle -ko, and so are the indirect objects and dative subjects. 21 Hindi native speakers and 28 Hindi heritage speakers completed a sociolinguistic questionnaire, a Hindi cloze test, an oral narrative task and a bimodal acceptability judgment task. The results showed significant differences between the fluent native speakers and the heritage speakers on all measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-176
Number of pages36
JournalLinguistic Approaches to Bilingualism
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012


  • Agreement
  • Attrition
  • Case marking
  • Ergativity
  • Heritage speakers
  • Hindi syntax
  • Morphosyntax

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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