This case study illustrates the long-term effects of interrupted input and subsequent re-exposure to the first language in childhood in the adult linguistic competence of an internationally adopted individual. Alicia-the subject of the case study-is a 34-year-old Guatemalan adopted by an American family at age 9 and raised in a small Mid-America town with no Hispanic population at that time. In several sessions, Alicia completed oral production and written tasks (including interpretation, judgment and truth value judgment tasks) targeting knowledge and use of Spanish morphosyntax. On the overall proficiency measures, Alicia demonstrates native-like knowledge of English and significant attrition in Spanish, although not to the extent reported in recent studies of Korean adoptees. Alicia's degree of L1 attrition and retention after several years of severed input challenges Pallier et al. (2003) and Ventureyra et al.'s (2004) Language Replacement and Impediment Hypothesis, and is more consistent with the view that there are age effects for L1 attrition (Hyltenstam et al. 2009; Montrul 2008).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-311
Number of pages36
JournalLIA Language, Interaction and Acquisition
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2011


  • Age effects
  • Internationally adoptee
  • L1 attrition
  • L1 retention
  • Morphosyntax
  • Spanish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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