2022-05-09Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.3390/languages7020115
A Plural Indefinite Article in Heritage Greek: The Role of Register
Sprach- und literaturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
This paper investigates the use of kati “some” by Greek Heritage Speakers (HSs) in comparison to monolinguals. While all Greek determiners are marked for gender, case, and number, and agree with their nominal complement, kati is an exception, as it lacks agreement and combines only with plural nouns. Building on the existing literature, we show that its function is to remain vague about the number of individuals/entities denoted. Our hypothesis is that vague language (VL) is a feature of informal conversations and of the spoken language. To this end, we conducted a study in which Heritage Speakers of Greek and monolingual speakers of Greek participated in a production task held in two distinct settings and modalities. In addition, we performed corpus searches to see how both monolingual and Heritage Speakers use kati. The results show that monolingual speakers do indeed prefer kati in the informal register, while Heritage Speakers overgeneralize its use across registers. Our findings confirm the use of vague language in informal registers and oral modality and support claims in the literature on register levelling by Heritage Speakers. Focusing on monolinguals’ repertoire, a judgment task with different levels of formality was additionally performed. These results in principle align with our hypothesis and signal that neither frequency nor other informality contexts trigger a higher rate for kati.
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