Early and late English-Spanish bilinguals show non-convergent grammar in Spanish and this is usually correlated to the quantity and quality of Spanish input they have received, for late bilinguals after adolescence as a second language (L2) in a classroom; for early bilinguals, from birth as heritage language (HL) in informal familiar settings. Comprehension of relative clauses requires considerable knowledge of syntactic rules and specific morphosyntactic properties of Spanish. Focusing on these clauses furthers our understanding of input quantity and quality in L2 and HL acquisition and development.
I will present data from 33 early bilinguals and 32 late bilinguals who completed a picture matching task that tested comprehension of these four Spanish relative clauses. The subject relative in (3) was comprehended by all learners. And all learners comprehended the object relative clause in (4), with the longest distance between the head and the gap. Learners struggled with the other two relative clauses in (5) and (6). Results also show that linguistic experience affects comprehension of these clauses differently. I will discuss these results based on the differences in quantity and quality of Spanish input received by these learners.