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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Hispanic Literatures & Linguistics

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Luiz Amaral

Second Advisor

Danielle Thomas

Third Advisor

Liliana Sánchez

Fourth Advisor

Katherine J. Riestenberg

Subject Categories

Anthropological Linguistics and Sociolinguistics | First and Second Language Acquisition | Language Description and Documentation


The present study investigates the acquisition of positional verbs on bilingual children of Zapotec and Spanish in the indigenous community of Hidalgo Yalalag in Oaxaca, Mexico. The main research question is how bilingual children of Zapotec-Spanish acquire positional verbs in a language shift and language displacement context. Ninety-four young scholars between the ages of five to ten years old took part in this study. They participated in three tasks, a vocabulary task, an acceptability task, and a production task. A sociolinguistic questionnaire was also employed. The vocabulary task goal was to recruit and identify participants for the study. The acceptability judgment task measured the comprehension and interpretation of basic locative sentences, whereas the production task evaluated the production of positional verbs in basic locative sentences. The sociolinguistic questionnaire researched families self-identification, language used mainly at home and neighborhood. Findings show that bilingual children’s performance did not differ across and between ages in the acceptability judgment task and the productions task, differences were perceived when data from the experiments were confronted to data gathered through the sociolinguistic questionnaire, that is bilinguals who belong to Zapotec families where Zapotec is the predominant language at home behave better contrasted to does who do not. The findings of this study revealed that families play an important role in the transmission of the language, and the promotion of the language at home stimulates the acquisition of positional verbs. This study also shows that age is not a feasible variable to evaluate the language acquisition path of positional verbs in contexts of language shift and language displacement. In such scenarios, it is essential to consider the sociolinguistic context that surrounds the language.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.